Failing is Good for You

A few quick thoughts on failure after a weekend of climbing in Tennessee and not necessary succeeding. These are mostly applicable to my situation of being shut down over and over while leading a 5.9 named L.A.G., but maybe these thoughts can work in general life as well.

  1. Failing puts your ego in check. You aren’t as amazing as you think you are. Get your brain back down on the same plane as everyone else. Have confidence in your abilities, but don’t think you’re the most talented person in the room.

  2. It means you tried! Most likely, it also means you tried something difficult and or scary. Even if you didn’t nail it, you pushed yourself outside your comfort zone.

  3. You’ll do better next time. Even if you don’t finish, you’re progressing forward with each piece you put together.

  4. You probably learned something. Maybe how to do better and also have a better attitude next time.

  5. Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new - Albert Einstein

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An Ode to a Harness

An Ode to a Harness

One of my favorite writers and outdoor personality recently wrote a wonderful piece about the Joy of Wearing out a Piece of Gear. He published this on the exact day I had purchased a new climbing harness for the first time in five years.

I’ve always formed an attachment with my favorite gear. My hiking boots are my friends, my pack is a companion, my climbing shoes are my armor, and my car is basically my boyfriend (though honestly we fight more than anyone in a relationship should…). It takes a lot of trial and error to find the gear that works for you, that feels reliable, and that will be in it for the long haul. One of those pieces for me is my very first climbing harness.

In 2013 I started venturing down to Nashville every couple of weeks to climb with my brother. Eventually the rental harnesses started seeming more and more lame to me. If I start a new hobby, I usually don’t take long jumping into the gear side of things - my bank account’s greatest downfall. So I went online and found the first ladies harness in a not too sickening girly color and bought it. The dusty purple  Black Diamond primrose harness was mine.

This harness took me from 5.6s to 5.12- (okay I've only climbed that once but it counts), it took me through two relationships, my first outdoor climbing trip, my first lead fall, trips to Nashville, my job at my new local gym, and so many new friendships in the climbing community. It’s completely discolored from sweat and grime, it’s stretched out so far that it’s a size too big, and I have the waistband doubled over to keep it secured on my hips. The tags on the inside have disintegrated and the leg loops are worn. But through it all, this harness has kept me safe and secure for the last five years. It’s seen my confidence in my abilities grow, my muscles strengthen, and my body change for the better. However, I'll never forget the time I put it on upside down AND backwards at a gym after I hadn’t used it in a year. I’ll never not be embarrassed about that unbelievable blunder….

I’m so thankful I bought this harness. But the time has come to say goodbye. I’ve bought a new one that is updated, clean (for now), the right size, and all shiny and new. I’m excited to make new memories with this one, but i'll always cherish the ones made in my very first harness.

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Sometimes You Aren't Inspired

Sometimes you aren’t inspired.

And currently, I haven’t been. I was hoping with all my new years goals and excitement for a brand new start, that I would stick to a strict posting schedule and just crank out the content for my existent (or more likely, nonexistent) readers. Instead, I’ve just been dealing with a whole lot of work stress and an abhorrent amount of rainfall which has kept me from being as adventurous as I would like.

When things in my 9-5 work grind get overwhelming, I tend to shut down. I shut down on friends, on work itself, family, and on creative endeavors. Quite frankly the only thing keeping me sane is that fact that I’ve been climbing about five times a week.

I have a blog post about my January trip to Pickett State Park just chilling in my drafts that is about ⅓ of the way finished, so hopefully someday that will see the light of day. But for now, I’m still on an accidental hiatus until the (excuse the somewhat gross cliche) creative juices start flowing.

Hopefully if weather cooperates, I’ll have a mini climbing weekend in Chattanooga that I can share with you, and possibly some small day hikes. But for now, I’m gonna keep trying to eat all the vegetables I can stand, drink some more water, take it easy on the Starbucks blonde espresso (cause that stuff is TIGHT), and go to bed at a reasonable hour. And hopefully real-life-not-so-fun work stuff dies down soon-ish (but it most likely won’t).

Later!

What I Wish I Knew When I First Started Climbing

No one is judging you. We all started where you started.

And honestly, if someone is judging you, they are probably just a trash person to begin with. It’s your first time, You aren’t going to be a pro and no one thinks you should be. You do those 5.5 climbs on top rope and those v0 boulder problems for as long as you need. Everything is an accomplishment and you’re doing better than half the population who can’t leave their couch. With time, you’ll get stronger. Start where you start and don’t feel insecure about it.

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Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The employees and members are happy to help you out 99% of the time. Not sure what the ratings mean? ASK. Don’t know how to do the next move on the boulder route you’ve been staring at for an hour? ASK. Don’t remember the belay method from the last time you climbed a month ago? ASK - especially when it's a safety concern.

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You’ll understand the lingo later on.

Google is your friend. I didn’t know what half the terms people were throwing around were when i first started, but now I’m just as annoying as they are…..
And if you want a handy cheat sheet I definitely looked at this one when I first started.

People are going to give you unwanted help.

I know I said you should ask if you need it, but sometimes half the fun of climbing is figuring it out for yourself. “Beta” - basically a term for “how to do the route” - is going to be spewed at you constantly. Especially if you are a lady climber. Feel free to tell them to cut it out and let you do it yourself!

Paired with this, if you're still a beginner, don't give advice to climbers who have clearly been climbing for a while. I said earlier that no one would be judging you...........but.............in this instance, they will. A fine line, I know, but you'll catch on!

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If you're hooked on climbing and decide to buy your own gear, make sure you buy shoes that are too small.

I didn’t believe what all the seasoned climbers told me and I bought shoes that felt awesome when I tried them on in the store………and just like they said, they are way too big and nearly impossible to climb in. $100 down the drain. Just deal with the discomfort, agony, and pain and then you’ll have the perfect shoes.

Along with that, if you’re still a beginner climber, all you need a harness, shoes, chalk bag, and a carabiner + ATC. Don’t start buying quickdraws, ropes, hand jammies, slings, etc. before you know how to use them. Get comfortable in the basics and then decide to grow your gear closet.

Those are just a few things that might help you out if you're brand new to climbing and worried about a scary gym atmosphere. If you have any climbing questions feel free to leave a comment or send me a message and I'd love to help you if I can! Happy climbing!