It was my last chance. Would I make it? An hour earlier, I had gotten to within three feet of the top anchors before fatigue caught me. My fingers couldn't cling to a small pocket and I fell, my arms stinging and nearly numb.
The route, "On the Beach", is at Cactus Cliff, a newly acquired addition to Shelf Road in Colorado. It was a route I knew I could do. At the end of our previous day of climbing, I made the mistake of trying it on top rope. After I climbed to the top without difficulty, I realized my mistake - I should have tried to on-sight it. So today I had returned for the redpoint. It was a busy day at Cactus Cliff; many people had paused to watch me on my first attempt. My climbing style is rather unusual, and I'm a little on the short side. This always seems to attract attention. After my fall, several people asked me when I would try it again. They wanted to watch. Others chose to do nearby routes.
Now it was time to climb again. My father belayed me and talked me through the lower cruxes. Then I became aware of the other people. From several routes away, they were shouting encouragement. Belayers were not watching their climbers; they were watching me. A small crowd had assembled at the base of my climb. Their support sharpened my focus. It seemed to add an extra layer of skin to my fingertips and to give me that extra little push for success. I didn't want to let them down. I made it up to my previous high mark still feeling strong. I made a few more moves and clipped the rope into the anchors. I had done it!
I want to thank the people who cheered for me. If you are reading this, I appreciate your encouragement. It mattered. Also, I would like to apologize to those climbing at the same time as me for distracting your belayers!