I went to Potrero Chico with one goal. I told my friends: I want to climb 12a. And I did. Within the first week.
The climb works its way up a beautiful, techy slab. The first time I tried it, I went in with zero expectations. I knew that a fall was likely, but I tried my best anyways. And within the first few technical moves, I was completely absorbed.
The style of that particular climb was perfect for me. It utilized all the things I’d been learning at Smith: just keep working your feet up, take rests before you need them, shake out often and so on.
I hardly noticed the other people climbing around me. I forgot about Carey belaying beneath me, the rope connected to me, the distance between the bolts. It was perfect. It was just me and the climb.
When I fell at the crux, I became extremely frustrated not because I fell from a 12a onsight, but because I fell out of flowstate.
I attempted the climb two more times to see if I could get it clean, but I never did. The second go, I had two falls. The third go, just one.
And my realization, now weeks later, is simple:
I need more in life besides just climbing hard. I didn’t climb 12a because it was a soft 12a (I think it was,) because the temperature was perfect (it was,) because the stoke was high (definitely was.) I clipped the chains on that climb because Carey, my climbing partner, lead me to the base of that climb. I made my way through the moves because Chris taught me the technique. I could rattle off a long list of names of people that have helped me to where I am, but I trust that they know their contribution.
I’m going to continue climbing for the rest of my life. But it’s not to conquer grades, mountains or even myself. It’s for the love of the people that are out there with me. I climb because it’s what I was made to do.