Climbing is for Children

Let me take you back to many some odd years ago in the life and times of @chubbygirlclimbing …back then not as chubby. During this period, I lived in Reno, Nevada (I moved around quite a bit in my youth) and one of my best friends, Morgan, from Texas happened to move to a little town outside Carson City, not far from me! Fate! Kismet! We had weekend long sleepovers that usually resulted in us performing some mild incantations with a Ouija board or “light as a feather, stiff as a board” type nonsense (pretty common fare for girl slumber parties, I’ve learned).

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One such weekend I was staying at her place. Morgan’s dad is a photographer and decided to take us with him to Dinosaur Rock. He would take some scenic shots and we would run off some energy. I’m sure we were boisterous and annoying when we were together. I’m pretty sure we still are.

Now let me tell you, we are lucky we didn’t die that day. Not because anything particularly insane happened, but because we were bounding and tottering from rock to rock like nobody’s business. Alex Honnold himself would probably retch at our extreme lack of awareness for our lives and safety. We knew no fear, we only carried an innate sense of adventure and exploration.

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Years and years later, I started rock climbing at a gym, obviously. But unlike my younger days, I now have a… ahem…healthy fear of heights and tumbling to my death. I’ve mentioned this before, and I still love to climb despite this fear… but it’s always present. More often than not it is the cause of me not being able to finish a route that’s within my abilities.

I get more nervous on auto belays ever since I had once seen a girl who thought she was clipped in fall and break her ankle (she was NOT CLIPPED IN). I check the carabiner constantly now. CONSTANTLY. Which is probably more dangerous when you think about it.

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Younger Jen on Dinosaur Rock didn’t have any rope or carabiner or autobelay! Little Jen and Morgan, YOLO-ing before that was even a term, God save us all.

So, when I say climbing is for children, I don’t mean literally. Well, ok…I do mean it literally, also. Have you seen how good those kids are? Pisses me right off. But my point is that’s not what I MAINLY mean.

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What I’m really driving at, is that to succeed in a sport like this (or hell, to succeed in life on the daily), we have to tap into our younger, braver selves. Young Jen wasn’t full of self-doubt, she KNEW she could climb those walls. If older Jen could just shed her irrational fears, maybe she could see how strong she is.* Whether that’s through meditation or just good ol’ repetition, I’m not sure. I’ll let y’all know when I do.

*Ok, that isn’t to say a healthy dose of fear is all bad. I mean, THAT GIRL WASN’T CLIPPED IN.

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Jen Alger contributor (theDIHEDRAL)

15 Replies to “Climbing is for Children”

  1. I so get that. I think I may have been destined to climb, even though I was in my 40’s when I started rock climbing. But, before that, when I was a child, I would climb tall eucalyptus trees, barefooted on their smooth trunks, like an island native would climb coconut trees for coconuts. I did so with nary a fear for my life. At times, some neighbor kid would make the attempt and get stranded up there and I’d have to crawl back down over them to call the fire department to use their cranes to get them down. I’m sure the firemen really loved me.
    But, that’s kids for you. We don’t know any better and we sometimes wish that part of us still existed. I learned long ago, that the phrase … ahhh Nike’s line, “Just do it” translates to “don’t over think it, just go for it” can get you over the hump.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I look back on my younger days when I was brave and fearless and confident. That all ended somewhere in my 40s. Now I have to take care. My limits are much closer to home these days and I don’t bounce back like I used to.

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  3. So, I don’t climb per se, but I started hiking on January 1st, 2019 as a “new year, new me” and for some hiking therapy that proved to be very reliable. Well, I am not a small woman, I have 4 kids and eat whatever intrigues the palette so it’s not always easy to do some of the trails with incline. But the more I hiked, the more I longed for the difficulty, like a fearless kid! We took the kids to climb Mt. Baldy in Garner State Park in Texas (where I live) and boy, I did not expect to be climbing bounders to get to the summit. The kids gave me the courage to keep going, they did it with so much ease! But for one, I couldn’t leave them alone, and two, I wanted to see the overlook. Long story short, I did conquer Mt. Baldy and was sore for days straight. Can I tell you a secret? I’d do it again…lol!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That is on the todo list!!! There is a new show coming out on PBS, called high-pointers and I think the 1st episode is Mt. Baldy ( Not 100% sure though).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah for people who hike a lot, this one isn’t hard but for me, the unlikely hiker, it was definitely tough. My kids did great though! The view is amazing though! I didn’t come down for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel this – when my kid is trying to climb a tree, there’s a part of my internal parenting voice going “yeah do it so cool” and the other part going “this is how we end up in the E.D.” or “please don’t get stuck so I don’t have to come up after you.” There’s a freedom with kids and climbing – one of their super powers. You could start a post called If Carabiners Could Talk. Love your totally hilarious drawings!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Great post. Love the drawings. We all get this fear feeling that can get in our way. When I get that fear feeling, I tell it to take a hike because I know that fear is not really me. I then go ahead with what needs to get done. That is what works for me.

    Liked by 2 people

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