My Climb and Conquer Story…
I first went to a Climb and Conquer event when I was in seventh grade. It was a free climbing event held for Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland. I had been to a different free climbing event before, but at that one I hadn’t been engaged and had been a little bit bored. Now, there were experienced climbers who were engaging with me. They noticed that I had a degree of skill, and told me to challenge myself with harder climbs. They were friendly, enthusiastic, kind, encouraging, and supportive. They gave me tips on technique, the details and elegance of which made rock climbing seem fascinating. I was already excited about it. To my surprise, they told me that I should take lessons, and I agreed. They even said that they would pay, and otherwise I don’t think it would have been a possibility.
So, I took weekly lessons, and it was great. I loved the mental challenge, and the physical exertion.
It’s been years since I’ve rock climbed regularly, but I still remember. Looking up at impossible climbs. When I willed myself to trust my ability. Moments when my body felt at extraordinary ease. Moments when instructors were annoyed because I thought a move was impossible, and they didn’t, and how it turned out that they were right. The first time I had to put my foot above my head to finish a climb, which seemed bizarre. How routes went from being so impossible that only somebody amazing like Joe could climb it, to laughably easy. Particularly fun were Climb and Conquer events. I met cool people, who were kind, passionate, and incredible at rock climbing. I would balk at climbs, and Joe would tell me I could make it, and then I did.
This was all a nice relief from school, where I was having a really unpleasant year. I had a very hard teacher, my grades and popularity had dropped sharply, and distances had popped up between my closest friends and I. I didn’t even know what to think about this, and my self esteem was sort of a mess. But one night every week, I went to climb, and I was good at it, and none of that school nonsense existed.
At one point I realized that I was taking part in an organized sport. I had predicted this would never happen. Even though I love running and competition and even the feeling of aching muscles, I’m infamously bad at most sports, like volleyball. I have no coordination.
I have a ten year old sister, and I teach her to climb on the climbing walls on playgrounds, by telling her that she has to get up while only using select holds. It’s pretty cool watching her learn.
So I want to say thank you to everybody involved in this organization, both for being a lot of fun to be around, and for introducing me to a sport that challenged my creativity, technique, perseverance, and fears in ways I never could have imagined.