3 weeks. 3 weeks since last climb. Today = hard and painful.

Surprise! 6 routes. 1 x 5.7, 3 x 5.8 and 2 x 5.9.

Route of the day – my second last, 5.9, in the corner, by the doorway. Reverse incline (towards the climber) and I hate this wall, the route doesn’t matter.

This wall kills me every time, never made it up. Hard keeping close to the wall, too much abs, too much forearms and the rope swings out, fall and swing away from the wall, towards the wall, away from the wall and hang in mid-air, off the floor. Me = panic, heart rate spikes and the chemicals start working overtime – run, run, run – and start gasping for breath. I’m the stupidest climber ever.

But, it was my climbing partner’s turn choice of climbs and she chose this one.

She climbs first. Attempt one – she fails to reach with her left hand. Attempt two – step with the wrong foot, with that twist she will never make the left hand reach. We stop. I tell her “Left foot goes here, right foot step through as you let go with your left hand and reach as you step up.”

She rolls her eyes, ‘cuz between us, I’m the one who can’t let go and reach.

Attempt three – she curses the person who wanted to do this climb. Surprise! It’s all you, baby.

We laugh for a moment.

Attempt four – nothing. One more time.

Attempt five – nothing. One more time. I tell her to go faster, quit sightseeing, go up the wall.

I curse her again before attempt six, if she isn’t making it to the that left hand hold, me = on the floor the whole time.

Attempt six – she makes the dreaded left hand hold, right, left, she is leaving her feet behind and gets…third of the way up before the fall and swings out.

She is done, over, I lower her.

We switch off and I’m already giggling – this = train wreck.

Do our check – everything is safe, knots are correct, harnesses properly tied and belay rope all proper.

Do our calls.

I look at her over my shoulder. She says “Climb. Go up.”

I hate “up”. If people = meant to go up we would have bodies more suited to climbing and flying, leave me earth-bound. Someone once kissed the sky, I kiss the ground.

Attempt one – both hands on the first hold, left foot pushes off and – I can’t let go with my left hand. I fall.

We look at each other. I curse her again, she says “Try again. This time, you know, climb.”

Attempt two – I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. I empty my brain, I empty my heart. My body will either climb or it won’t and right now, whatever happens, happens. Grab the two-hand hold, look at the left-hand hold I need to reach – it is too far away, but I don’t care, it isn’t going to stop me – step with my left foot and I’m off the ground, right leg goes through (yoga term: thread the needle) and the momentum allows me to do the pivot with my hips and grab the left-hand hold.

I don’t know what happens after that.

I know what happens – I climb. I go up.

I go fast.

I do crossovers and reaches and get over the incline and over the lip to where the rope is straight.

I fall there and don’t swing – I’m more than half-way up.

Take a quick break and a breath.

She says “Keep climbing – you are half-way up, no coming down until you make it to the end.” Sometimes she is cruel.

Get back on the hold I fell off and do it again. My feet scrabble a bit and my arms are tired. Fall again. Three more times. She says “Get in close to the wall.” My hips come back to the wall and it gives me a bit more that I use to reach.

Suddenly.

Thankfully.

I’m at the last hold.

I did it! I made it up the climb! 5.9, on an incline. I’ve never done that before. I’ve never done any climb on that wall before.

I’m.

I’m.

So happy.

No panic attack.

Footnote – later, after brunch, after visit with a friend working a conference today, went to get myself a reward, some new exercise gear, splurging – Lululemon. Busy store. Too busy, too many people, they are in my space, two people bump into my backpack, adrenaline floods the blood, heart rate spikes, I’ve got to get away, I’m about to lose my mind, everyone is too close and closing in. Leave the store in a mad dash. Almost panic attack. Close call.

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