Sometimes, there comes a moment when a decision has to be made. This moment is not a pleasant one; it is not one to treasure. This is a moment when you seemly admit defeat. You recognize you can�t succeed. This is an emotional moment. It is one that can lead to considerable second guessing. If you are not careful, it is a moment that can haunt you.
As a climber, I have had many of these moments. I push myself, whether I am in the mountains or doing a sport climb. To do otherwise would be to limit myself. To improvement and grow, I must constantly be at the boundary between succeeding and not succeeding. Notice I didn't use the �failure� word. Some people may see retreating or walking away from a climb as failure. I do not! A saying I have written in my little Red Book, a book I read to remind me of my journey and my goals, is "There is no failure, only feedback." We all need feedback. It tells us how we are doing and what we are capable of doing. It tells us how to improve.
These thoughts came to mind on a recent sport climb. Actually, I wasn�t on the climb. It had already given me some good feedback. I wasn�t capable of making a move. A positive hold was two inches yes, just 2 inches beyond my reach. And out of my reach it remained. No matter how I positioned my body, it remained two inches away. With a little rope tension, I could make the move and complete the route. Due to the difficulty of the route, jumping or dynoing to the hold was not an option for me. So I sat on the rock at the base of the climb. My father broke it to me gently. "Pull the draws", he said. This was an emotional moment for me. I wanted to do this climb. It was "just another 12a." I had already done several 12a�s on the same wall and numerous 12�s this year. Yet, this one had stopped me. And I wasn't happy about it.
I rested a moment and tied into the rope. Up the route I climbed, doing every move without effort � except for one. At the critical point, my crux, I had to have just a little tension to reach the pocket. I took the draws off the route, we pulled the rope, and we left.
Was the route beyond me? That day it was. Rather than dwell on the failure, I thought about the feedback. To make the route, I would need one of several things to happen. I could simply wait. I�m still growing. Sometimes on a route when I�m hanging onforever, unable to make a move, my father calls up "Wait long enough and you will outgrow it!" While growing will allow me to make the move, it will not make me a better climber. Instead, as we reviewed the climb, I realized I was weak. I needed to make a push move with my arm, a move that is hard for women. This was something I could work on; it is something that would improve my climbing skills.
Did I fail on the route? Did the route beat me? No, it was a good route. It showed me a way to become a better climber. And it gave me a �yardstick� I could use to measure my growth. The route will be there in the future; the move will still be there. And I will be back, stronger and better than I was this day!