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Between a Rock Wall and a Hard Place

After almost a month of the rain denying me the experience of my first outdoor climb, our group finally got out this past Saturday. It was a sparkly, sunny day, mid-80s, not a chance of rain. We drove with the top down on the car and basked in the beauty that is a Minnesota summer… Read more »

jocelyn stone

After almost a month of the rain denying me the experience of my first outdoor climb, our group finally got out this past Saturday. It was a sparkly, sunny day, mid-80s, not a chance of rain. We drove with the top down on the car and basked in the beauty that is a Minnesota summer day. After the exhilarating hike up to the bluff, my first climb was. . . anticlimactic.

After all the build-up and talk of how fun this was going to be, a real outdoor climb was drastically different than I had anticipated. You mean the holds really aren’t conveniently marked in red and white so that I can plot where I’m going before I even get started? And what about those big handles that are so easy to grasp onto — where’d they go? Needless to say, not only did I not make it to the top of any of my climbs, I didn’t even get close.

Although I enjoyed the day, I have to admit that I was pretty sullen about my performance. My friends tried to console me with the reminder that this was my first time out. To which it took every ounce of restraint I had (and a couple of ounces that I didn’t) to stop myself from saying, “But it’s (my climbing partner) Ryan’s first time, too, and he’s doing really well.” That would have been just downright whiny. Not to mention that Ryan (the triathloner) is younger, stronger and healthier than I am.

They say that each new experience is a learning opportunity, and I definitely took away something from the outing this weekend: Finally seeing what real, natural rock is like has given me an idea of holds and techniques that I want to practice, ones that I never would have guessed before being out there.

But I’ve also learned that my determination has really grown over the years. There used to be a time that if I didn’t excel at something the first time I did it, there wouldn’t be a second time, and I’ve probably missed out on some really fun experiences. Today, I’m saying that not only will there be another climbing adventure, but when it comes I’ll be ready to kick some butt on that bluff!

Jocelyn Stone is a former editor for Experience Life.

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