“Let’s do this cool gully,” said Richard, discussing the Sunday adventure plans in the Lake District, while sizing up his crampons and ice axes.
We were still in the cosy confines of the hut, nursing hangovers and savouring strong coffee, yet I was absolutely terrified of climbing a wall of ice with just some spikey bits of metal being all that would stop me from falling down the mountainside.
Even before setting eyes on the beast, just the thought of my first ice climb was making my hangover worse. I felt positively bilious.
All the usual doubts rose up and crashed down on me like a tidal wave: I’ve never been ice climbing before, how was I going to cope? I’m not good enough yet so how can I possibly do an ice climb? I don’t have the right kit with me. I don’t want to let the others down. What if I freak out and get stuck? Or worse, what if I fall off the mountain?
To be honest, that last thought wasn’t the one that concerned me most. It was the others – the ones that were like neon signs pointing out that I just wasn’t good enough. Continue reading →
I was positively sure I was going to die. Tears streamed down my face, my body shook uncontrollably. “I can’t do this,” I heard myself repeat over and over as my self-doubt loomed. But, against the self-preserving urge, I took a deep, shuddering breath, grasped the rope, pushed my bum out to oblivion and attempted the two-metre abseil to the first ledge – some 10 or so metres above a wild, white-crested sea.
I’m strapped into a harness clinging onto the side of a rock face like a barnacle stuck to the hull of a boat. One piece of rope, my trusty belayer and my adrenaline-fuelled muscles are all that are keeping me from falling to certain death. (Ok maybe just a broken leg or two – I’m only a couple of metres off the ground after all, but I might as well be hanging off the top of the Eiffel Tower).
With quivering muscles, my body contorted in ways a Russian gymnast would be proud of and my feet precariously close to slipping, I attempt to reach for a higher hand grip, avoiding the sight beneath me.
Being new to rock climbing is never going to be easy. But to fail what should have been a relatively easy grade 4 climb – that I’d already climbed, I might add – is beyond annoying.
In response, I did what a lot of people would do – I sulked, stomped about, pulled faces, made excuses. And of course, when I tried again I still struggled to get off the ground (literally). What does this say?