Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Which I learn How to Lead

I am a leader, not a follower.

Okay. It really depends on the situation. And who you ask. But that's not really up for discussion at the moment.

Waaaay back in '02, I learned how to rock climb. I would go with my friends from college, and some of you may remember fondly - or whatever - the reason I got started in the first place.
Despite the parting of ways and gear, I kept at it for a few years with the crazy lady on the left.
I even went to that place which is a bit like Climbing Mecca to live, work, and climb for a summer.

But then life happened. The Fabulous Miss Holly got a boyfriend-turned-husband and so did I. She kept right on climbing with him, but I gave it up since, well, if I wasn't climbing with Holly, I was climbing with partners of the male variety. And having a boyfriend who did not climb and boy-friends who did climb does not really work all that well. Trust me. I tried. Apparently somewhere around 20, the genders cannot co-mingle properly. And men, for whatever reason, usually get jealous at the wrong times. This is becoming even more apparent at 30.

Anyway, a long story short. I gave up climbing altogether. Reluctantly. But eventually, it just became part of my back story; the character development part of my narrative; the skip-to-the-part-where-I-tell-you-something-else-because-this-topic-makes-me-sad part of my life history.

Ironically, the men who kept Holly and I from climbing together are now both part of our back stories, narratives, and life histories. She is doing the divorce thing better than I have; her strength is inspiring and I am so proud to be her friend. And if we can get it together, we will be climbing together again very soon.

During my summer living in Climbing Mecca, Sister - living also in a bit of a Mecca - decided she would go ahead and skip the experience of learning to climb with a top rope and go straight for the part where she put her own ropes up, called leading. I am sure you all remember as fondly as I do Sister's broken foot following the first time she led a climb.

Sister's experience combined with the loss of climbing partners meant that in the last 9 years, I have never taken the opportunity to be more...proactive...with my rope setting.

Until today.

My new friend, JK, and I loaded up Ellie and all of this stuff:

And went to the Candy Store.
We spent the first part of the afternoon just playing around. JK set most of the routes for us,

while I tried to remember how to tie the darn rope.

We got our act together eventually,
which made time for JK to give me some lessons.

Miss Ellie eagerly watched, fetched sticks, or stood on the gear. She may have issues with me, or anyone really, not being on the ground. She wore herself out with worry.


So viola. My first lead climb. The "Tootsie Pop" according to my guide book. It was pretty easy peasy. But hey, it was the perfect starting point.
Here's the first bolt.


And the second.
No picture for the third, but you can see it there just below me from the top!


I was pretty freaking excited.

It may not be that big of a deal to most people, or even you, if you have ever climbed a rock before. But for me...it is a really big step. A really big confidence-building step. There may be some metaphor here about "climbing on" even if it is a little bit terrifying to be without protection every once in a while. About making a new front story, changing history, and further developing my character for a more interesting plot to my life narrative.

But who needs metaphors.

Especially when you have friends patient and non-judging enough to let you learn.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on finding your way back up the mountain and back to your love of climbing! Way to go! Climb on, Girl, climb on! Mom

Anonymous said...

sweaty hands jus lookin at pix climb on girl jus member 1st step dooosie