Trip Report
Chronicles of a Newbie: Letting Go of Self-Preservation
Thursday March 14, 2013 2:14am
It was my first time rock climbing in the great outdoors. It had only been a month since I decided to take up this new hobby after years of claiming to be afraid of heights. †I spent a month in a climbing gym learning the basics and finding that although I had freakish upper body strength from years of triathlons and swimming- I had zero technique. So after a month of top roping up to 5.11a in a gym and reading Rock Climbing for Dummies, my more accomplished climbing friend, Adam, had the courage and patience to teach me how to climb on real rock. So last Sunday, on a beautiful spring day, we went to Consumnes River Gorge for Climbing 101.†

On my first climb, which I later disheartenly learned was only a measly 5.6, all prior climbing knowledge went out the window. Where were the foot holds I was used to at the gym? Adam insisted they were there as he pointed out minuscule ridges in the face of the granite. Alas, I decided to do a giant pull up as I heard him shouting, "Use your feet- you have feet!" Low and behold I ended up resting half pulled up on the top of the rocky ledge with my ass up in the air- but I didn't care how gracelessly I did it- I finally climbed something outside.

After reclimbing that route the correct way, we went on to a 5.9 crack climb where Adam effortlessly demonstrated the lie back climbing position. However, on my first attempt, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to move sideways at the crux and soon learned by getting stuck, that I should just stick with my friend's beta and not come up with my own ideas for now.†

Eventually we moved on to a slightly more steep crack climb where I used unorthodox methods of using my thigh to jam holds, which although must've been entertaining, I'm sure I won't be seeing it demonstrated in any climbing book soon. At one point I realized I couldn't go any further and I called out for a break, and even though he had me tight with a top rope, I didn't release my death grip from the rock.†

Adam called out to me to rest and let go of the rock. I shook out my right hand while still grasping the granite with my left.†

He called out again, "No- rest both arms." I knew what he wanted me to do but instead I just switched out arms- one holding on, one resting.†

Exasperated he called out, "No- rest both arms at the same time."†

But I was afraid to let go of the rock. †

Not because of a fear of heights or of falling, but a fear of losing my place on the rock. †I spent so much energy to get where I was, I feared taking a momentary break would make me lose my position and cause me to have to redo all the work Iíd done. †I didnít want to end up swinging over a ledge and not be able to get back to it. †Part of it was sheer stubbornness- not wanting to cry uncle or admit that I really needed a break. †But in the end, ignoring self-preservation and just letting go was exactly what I needed to do in order to get to where I wanted to go. †Yes- in letting go of the rock, I lost my perfect footing, and I had to re-angle my way back to start again; but, in letting go, I saw a new way to move forward, a flicker of hope in a new approach that I wouldnít have seen if I hadnít let go for a new perspective. †I learned that clinging to something, regardless of what it is in life, will get you no where but a lot of used up energy and pain. †So while using the lie back position, I had to learn to push off from the one thing I wanted most, and some how, some way, that opposite force, like a cross-handed blessing, created the safety and security I needed in order to move on. †And as I painstakingly inched my way up to the crux that stood between me and my goal of the next ledge or the next hold, I learned that although thinking things through along the way was wise, there was also a point I had to stop standing on the ledge and just have the courage to go for it before I lost the moment of opportunity. †

After five hours of climbing, multiple scrapes, and a few choice words under my breath, I walked away with an addict's grin. †I fell in love with climbing, just for the sheer parallels it taught me about tackling the dilemmas in life.†

I used to be afraid of heights, and I'm sure my climbing partners think I have a fear of falling, but in rock climbing and in life- it's neither- I just have a fear of failing. But sometimes, I'm learning, the only way not to fail- is to simply let go, in order to begin again.†

And after this first climb, this is certainly just the beginning...



  Trip Report Views: 1,956
Letting go
About the Author
Letting go is a climber from Sacramento, CA.

Comments
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survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Mar 14, 2013 - 03:27am PT
Way to go man!


Now about those pics.....
briham89

Big Wall climber
santa cruz, ca
  Mar 14, 2013 - 03:37am PT
Careful... You will be trying to figure out how to get by working as little as possible and planning all aspects of life around climbing in no time. Welcome my friend
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Mar 14, 2013 - 10:15am PT
Great post Briham89!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Mar 14, 2013 - 10:23am PT
Eventually we moved on to a slightly more steep crack climb where I used unorthodox methods of using my thigh to jam holds, which although must've been entertaining, I'm sure I won't be seeing it demonstrated in any climbing book soon.

Thigh, knee, head, hip, stomach, rib cage, shoulders, elbows, forearm. calf....

all ligit for crack climbing, depending on circumstances and should be leveraged to make it all easier. It will take time to learn this but it comes down to finding the easiest way to climbing a given stretch of crack... for you. Everyone is different.

Cheers
DMT
Climber Joe

Trad climber
  Mar 14, 2013 - 10:34am PT
Very nice. I've been hooked for 7 years now. Can't imagine life without climbing.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Mar 14, 2013 - 10:49am PT
On my first climb, which I later disheartenly learned was only a measly 5.6,
Don't hate the 5.6,
at my age and condition I thrive on that stuff!
Welcome to real rock climbing.
Next time bring a camera and squeeze off a few shots, we love pics in TR's.
Thanks for the story,
Tad
michaeld

Sport climber
Sacramento
  Mar 14, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
Ryan?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Mar 14, 2013 - 12:25pm PT
Welcome to the tribe......forget life as you once knew it.
Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Mar 14, 2013 - 12:58pm PT
Ratings are a guide and ALWAYS subjective. One mans 5.11 is another mans 5.9 and vice versa. Also, very little correlation between climbing in a gym and outdoors...other than the knot you tie in with.

Congrats on taking the step and take your friends advice..you're feet are your friend.
Letting go

climber
Sacramento, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 15, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Thank you everyoneÖI'm truly humbled by your welcoming and encouraging comments- especially by some of the greatest climbers of all time. It speaks volumes about the camaraderie and human spirit behind the sport that is what makes climbing phenomenal. After all, if the honest sharing of stories and trusting partnership between climbers didnít exist, the sport would just be one more physical challenge to serve a manís ego, rather than something truly magnificent to behold.

And yes- next time Iíll remember to stop and take pictures. :)
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Mar 17, 2013 - 09:20am PT
Welcome to the sickness...:)
Letting go

climber
Sacramento, CA
Author's Reply  Mar 28, 2013 - 02:09am PT
Thanks all...

And I guess I should've mentioned MichaelD- nope not Ryan.;)

Cheers-
Heidi
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Mar 28, 2013 - 02:11am PT
After all, if the honest sharing of stories and trusting partnership between climbers didnít exist, the sport would just be one more physical challenge to serve a manís ego, rather than something truly magnificent to behold.

so true... love it.

~leggs
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Mar 28, 2013 - 02:38am PT
Nice! Cosumnes river gorge was also my first climbing experience. Dinkum Crack kicked my ass!
MisterE

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  Mar 28, 2013 - 08:46am PT
I learned that clinging to something, regardless of what it is in life, will get you no where but a lot of used up energy and pain.

Love the way you stated that process of learning. Welcome.
Al_Smith

climber
San Francisco, CA
  Mar 28, 2013 - 10:45am PT
Great writing and insights!

I greet you at the beginning of what will surely be a wonderful, fun, and illuminative climbing career!
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Mar 28, 2013 - 11:32am PT
Welcome...
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Mar 28, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
Wonderful to read! By the time I discovered the Consumnes River Gorge, I had just enough time for one trip before I moved from Berkeley to LA. That one trip was a lot of fun, though about all I remember was flailing trying to lead Ten Minute Crack clean (then a relatively new concept) and free (which had not been done yet -- and I failed to change that status).

Glad you got outside, and delighted that you've taken up our great sport.

John
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Mar 28, 2013 - 05:45pm PT
I dig your stoke! 5.6 is where it's at. There aint nothin' special about 5.11, 12 or 15 for that matter. Its all rock and it all goes in the same direction....up.

Here's one of my favorite "5.6" places to be. Though the guide says 5.4....it sure felt 5.6.

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut



Eichorn Pinnacle in Tuolumne. Keep the posts and stories coming!

See you out there,

Scott
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
  Mar 28, 2013 - 07:08pm PT
TFPU - Good read.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Mar 28, 2013 - 07:11pm PT

Whoo hoo!!!!
No terror. Only grim faced effort!
Keep it up, and take more pics!!!
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Mar 28, 2013 - 07:12pm PT
I dig your stoke! 5.6 is where it's at. There aint nothin' special about 5.11, 12 or 15 for that matter. Its all rock and it all goes in the same direction....up.

Awesome.
trouble916

Trad climber
Elk Grove, CA
  Mar 29, 2013 - 04:05pm PT
Nice report, great writing! My wife and I are also triathletes from the Sacramento area just getting into climbing. We've probably seen each other at the local races I'm sure. I'm going to be using climbing as my cross training and strength workouts for Ironman Tahoe in September. Hopefully will see you at the local gyms or out on the rocks someday soon.
Letting go

climber
Sacramento, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 5, 2013 - 12:50am PT
Awesome pics Scott- I def want to do that climb.

And Trouble916- impressive you're getting to do the inaugural ironman in Tahoe. Rock climbing has been a great cross training sport for Tris. Good luck!
Vegasclimber

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
  Apr 5, 2013 - 01:56am PT
Heidi, thanks for posting this up. There was a lot to read here that is not only about climbing, but also self, and life. As it should be.
Never knock the 5.6, I have a ton of fun on most climbs of that grade. And some 5.6 climbs can spank a 5.10 climber - its all relative to your style and approach.
Welcome to the tribe! With your writing style, I hope that this TR is just the first of many to come. Good read.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Apr 5, 2013 - 11:39am PT
ThUmbs UP! Welcome to the rest of yur life!
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Apr 5, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
Adam insisted they were there as he pointed out minuscule ridges in the face of the granite.

Ha ha boy do I know that one...."I'm sure that's just a shadow". ...

Great TR...yes, for sure bitten...as you when I first started I thought it was all about "pulling" yourself up the rock as I had good upper body strength too. "Use your feet" is frequently shouted at me...I'm getting better at it since I blew my shoulder out last year. As for ratings, don't put too much stock in them. You can be on a 5.6 with major exposure and be ready to poo your pants. And many popular "easy" climbs have gotten polished over the years or features have broken off from when the original guides were written making them much more challenging. The best thing. HAVE FUN.
Hope to see you round the Valley and don't forget the consummate climbers tribe gathering this fall at Yosemite Facelift. You'll see lots of stuff on the Forum about it,

Susan
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Apr 24, 2013 - 09:25pm PT
Nice work. Using your feet is key for sure! Keep at it, you've got the stoke which is needed to succeed!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
  Apr 24, 2013 - 11:26pm PT
I love your TR, excellento!

Most of all enjoyed the last paragraph and sentence. FOF (fear of failure) has always been a huge issue with me. It can be dealt with. Never let it defeat you. (just to encourage you.):)

Finally, jess sayin', the last 3 moves of a challenging climb, right before the top out, are where I what to say, "OK, I'm done." Thankfully my belayers never let me get away with it.

I'm sure you're finding out that one can dig deeper.

Hope to meet you in the real. Try and come to the Face Lift in Yosemite Valley at the end of September. Look it up here on Super Topo for free camping reservations if you participate. PLUS, you will meet a ton of wonderful rockin' rock climbers, who will most likely ask you if you'd like to climb.

Best, Lynne
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