Yesterday I was climbing 5C comfortably and consistently for the first time. I often climb 5a, 5b and sometimes attempt 6a and 5c. Yesterday I skipped the easy grades and went straight for the 5C+. I expected it to be hard and I expected to struggle. I expect strength and fear of falling to be issues but they were not.
I believe that three factors contributed to this. The first of these is that last time I went climbing I was also bouldering. I believe that bouldering got me to work different muscle groups and that these muscle groups were primed for use when lead climbing.
The second factor that helped is that I noticed that the door frames in the building where I live have tiny ledges that I can grip and pull on laterally. By making this lateral effort I was strengthening my grip for tiny holds. I was using the strength I developed on holds that I would not otherwise have trusted. Amusingly it seems to have worked.
The third and most important factor is that I took a one week break from climbing. In this time my body had the time to recover and so did my mind. It had the opportunity to absorb what it had learned and desaturate from the previous climbs. In effect I arrived to the wall with a clean slate (no pun intended).
I love to go climbing because it is a wonderful form of escapism from all of the stress of adult life. It provides you with a workout and with an opportunity to clear your mind. Some would describe it as a form of meditation. As a former diver I would call it desaturation. You have the opportunity to live in and enjoy a moment with no past and no future. That’s why people love these sports. It can be summarised to one phrase. Well being. Yesterday’s successful climbs contributed to mine.