There I was at the top of the route - the wind whipping through my hair, the sun bronzing my back, and my forearms so pumped I could just scream. The chains were staring me right in the face, but I wasn’t secure enough to clip. Clinging to a small one-pad flake with my left hand and frantically searching for something positive with my right, I knew I had to think of something fast. My left hand was getting too pumped to hold onto a huge flake and if I didn’t shake out soon, I’d be popping off in no time.
Relentless Positivity - Aicacia Young
Typically, when I get to this point on a route, I’ll just let go and fall. Usually I’d rather let go than fall with tons of slack out trying to clip the chains, but this time I decided to just go for it. The sticky, textured sandstone at Red Rocks reminded me of my early climbing days at the Red, and my endurance instincts kicked in. All I needed was a few quick shakes, a violent mental battle, and some oxygen, and I’d be good to go. As I was losing strength in my left hand, I literally just stared at it so intensely that my eyes were twitching, thinking, “JUST. HOLD. ON. LONGER.” I finally sunk my right hand into a solid sloper, got a couple good shakes on both sides, and recovered just enough to clip the chains. Thank God! It wasn’t an onsite, flash, or even a red point for me, but I really didn’t care. Though it probably seemed insignificant, I had just successfully overcome the doubts and fears that were holding me back.
It’s so easy to get caught up in tracking your physical progress and lose sight of your mental game, but physical strength is only half the battle. Fear of failure, perfectionism, self-doubt, self-deprecation, insecurity, worry, ego, and comparison can all limit even the strongest of climbers. I’ve learned over the years that your mentality is what sets you apart from other climbers. If you want to climb harder, you have to ditch your snarky realism and adopt some relentless positivity. Climb with people who encourage and motivate you. It’s nice to get away and enjoy the sweet serenity of solitude, but remember that you are your harshest critic. So cut yourself some slack, celebrate your accomplishments no matter the size, and enjoy the life you have because you never know how long it will last.