New era in the life and mind

I never understood what all the hype was about. Climbing always just seemed like a good way to get your arms tired and your hands raw. Sure, I would occasionally take a jaunt to the climbing gym because climbing two or three V.0s would count as my workout for the day, right?

I wanted to ‘get it,’ I wanted to understand the obsession, and I wanted to be privy to the culture. My high school had a nationally recognized climbing team and a few of my best friends were on it, leading me to the gym every weekend to watch comps. It was never terribly enticing to try it after watching my friend climb a V.8, and I could sometimes barely heave myself up a V.1.

Thanks to a good friend today, I expanded my horizons, as they say. We drove out to Garden of the Gods directly after class and trekked out to Kindergarten Rock.

“You’re sure I can do it?”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” he chuckled, helping me make sense of my borrowed harness.

“What happens if I can’t?”

“You can.”

“But what if I can’t?” I asked as he helped adjust my helmet.

This conversation déjà vu-ed its way to the base of the climb when he demonstrated the necessary maneuvers on my part—the knots, the bits and pieces, the techniques.

I was secretly so worried I wouldn’t be able to complete the climb. I envisioned my legs trembling the entire time and my fingers clinging to a small hold halfway up, never truly trusting the rope enough to sit back and regroup. How embarrassing.

And yet, you have to start. You can’t say you never tried. Or at least, that’s how I convinced myself to climb those first few feet.

My fingers were tired and my arms were throbbing but my legs were surprisingly, comfortingly steady. And it was in this slow, painstaking way that I made it to the summit of Kindergarten Rock via New Era.

You look around at the top, and somehow you seem to intrinsically ‘get it.’ The culture, the hype, the stereotypes, and the stoke all fall away when you peer over the edge, down the face you just clambered up. You feel that supposedlyfictional swelling of pride in your chest, your trembling fingers seem like they’re dancing in celebration, and your arms don’t seem to realize they’re finished climbing.

The view strikes at a place in the heart you didn’t realize was reachable without getting into the backcountry and the brain is set to constant overdrive.

Glorious. Incredulous. Astonishing.

Lest it be unclear: I’m hooked.

Caleigh Smith

Caleigh Smith

Caleigh is a sophomore and began writing for the Catalyst during her first block at CC. She then became the Active Life editor a year later in the fall of 2015. She designed her major (Ecological Translation in Adventure Journalism) with a minor in both Spanish and Human Biology and Kinesiology. She is passionate about all things outdoors and is excited to see the Active Life section expand.

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