Monday, January 7, 2008

Tidbits: Did I just wet my pants?

I took a rock climbing class in Krabi. Krabi is supposedly in the top ten most beautiful climbing sites in the world. I was very excited to have one on one instruction. On the first day I climbed ten routes, most of them rated more difficult than I had ever done before. I was stoked. The climbing was great, I had done well, and my instructor was impressed. The second day I was supposed to learn to lead climb. ( Leading is when you take the rope up with you as you climb. As a result if you fall there is no rope above you to catch you. You have to fall down to where you last clipped into a bolt and THEN fall the length of rope you had out above that bolt.) Because I had done so well on the rocks the first day I went to class a little over confident. I was smiling, had my chest out, and I was ready to take on any wall. I learned some basic lead techniques and was ready to go. My guide sent me up a route I had climbed the day before and that was relatively easy. There is something wholly different about being above your point of protection. Suddenly simple moves became death defying, I was scared out of my wits. I tried to settle myself down a couple of times. "It's alright if you fall, the rope will stop you in 20 or 30 feet." Or, "You won't slam into the rocks too hard." Self soothing was not working so eventually it came down to pride. I was NOT going to have some twenty something little Thai guy bring my ass down off the rocks. It was either go up or get rescued. I went up. Eventually I was able convince myself that leading did not necessarily equal death and was able to lead several more climbs, but none of them comfortably. I went home that night with my tail appropriately tucked between my legs. I wasn't all that, and I had no chips. The third day of class I showed up but my confidence did not. I spent the morning learning how to set up a multi-pitch climb; where I go up the wall first, rig a safe belay system then belay my partner from above while he climbs. ( Now not only did I have my own life in my hands I had someone else's as well. ) While I was learning,I was busy worrying. I worried about leading. I worried about rigging the belay and I worried about dropping my instructor. I worried about dropping myself. By the time I was to lead and rig the belay I had myself worked into a frenzy. I wanted my mommy. I knew I was going to die. My hands were shaking, my mind was racing and so was my heart. I was 60 feet up already and had to lead to 80. I had my chest against the wall, my feet on a three inch ledge, my neck craned back looking at what I thought was an impossible featureless climb, and a 20 something Thai guy waiting, and watching. I had to put on my big girl panties. I have to admit though it was only pride that pried me off the ledge. I started to climb. I wanted to cry. I got to the first hold and I wanted to stay. I got to the first bolt where I had to let go with one hand to clip in and I was in a tremendous hurry to get it done,but I could not get the beaner clipped to the bolt. I was losing my grip. I thought I was going to fall. I had to get a hold of myself. I finally got the thing clipped. When I got to the anchor at 80 feet I set my rigging and belayed my instructor as he came up to me. He lead the last 15 feet. When I completed the last pitch I clipped in with my safety sling and leaned back to look around. Damn it was beautiful.

8 comments:

Volkman said...

Burge-
I finally tracked you down! Just got finished reading this whole blog thingie. Dang, this is cool, but this whole rock-climbing post and your toilet and eating and travelling stuff- you apparently are still an FP! When will we get that knocked outta ya? I'll email you soon and tell you how its going back here. Great move moving on you... You will never regret this.
Volkman

cindylist said...

Chit! You had my heart racing on this one. Congratulations on overcoming your fear! You are a "wow!"

Anonymous said...

Hey Tracy,
I emailed Cindy that on these adventures you need to tell us the ending first so we aren't scared to death for you but I guess the fact that you are writing about it tells us you survived! Keep adventuring & surviving!
Love, Mom

Susan said...

Tracy - I was confident in your abilities! Fantastic story, brought back memories of our climbs together..."you start like this".
Miss you.

Jan said...

Hey T...

Took an unscheduled break from the blog and returned tonight to find many new entries. Reviewed the Thai pics that Cindy had posted earlier and some made a lot more sense. That Heaven & Hell temple is a piece of work! Heaven or hell depending on which side of the roller, end of the spear, etc you're on...tho all sides/ends look like hell to me!

I too was holding my breath during your climbing adventure...that young man had a lot of faith in you...well placed. Seemed to me that tidbit could have been Hell-and at the destination, Heaven.

Love,
Jan

atyoyo said...

Volkman,
If you read this send me your email. I cannot get through at school and I cannot return your email from here. Great hearing from you!
FP

Anonymous said...

Okay Tracy, you had me when you said, "...on the FIRST day I did TEN routes..." I went to the local wall at the outdoor store and only made it 3/4 of the way on the first route before my legs gave out. I am impressed. Sounds like more fun.

Chad keeps asking what your schedule is and when you are coming home? He is very interested in what is going on with you.

Take care,
Brother John
cabco3@yahoo.com

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