Instant karma: my first fall

The following guest post was written by Krysia, a woman who just a few years ago discovered her love for climbing. It’s a great reminder to remain aware while climbing!

Falling.  It’s part of climbing, nobody likes to talk about it, let alone do it.  Well, I will tell you about my first fall on lead; and it wasn’t a text book fall to brag about.  No, it was sort of  the fall you never want to happen.  But hey, it happened, no one was hurt, and now I have it out of the way.

So, there I was, on my second trip to The Red, as a relatively new climber, and had never led a route.  My friend Ashely and I were the only two who weren’t leading routes in our group, but were feeling pretty good, like we could.  So on day 1 I led a 5.5 for the practice of clipping in and then after top-roping a slabby 5.8, led it and sent it, without any problem (I love slabby routes).

However, the next day, I was not so fortuitous.  I wasn’t feeling at the top of my game from the get go and I didn’t have much of a breakfast.  Not consuming enough calories a big no-no for me.   I must have a pretty fast metabolism because I bonk easily when doing any physical activity and have to constantly consume calories to avoid getting shaky. This was my first mistake, not eating enough.

So there I am, ready to onsite a juggy 5.7 , a lower grade, yet different climb than the day before.  My friends gave me the beta on it. It was pretty straight-forward; everything was right there except at the last clip, there was not much, so it was suggested to go right then traverse back left to clip in.  I moved through the first three bolts just fine, plenty of hands and feet, no problem.  But then I made my second mistake.  When going for the last bolt, I simply went on the beta I was given and didn’t take time to first analyze my options.

This was what caused me to fall, not plotting out my last move.  I had done everything else on my own terms prior to, but when I got to this point I just reacted.  I made it up to the level of the top bolt but was too far over to clip in.  It was during my traverse that my legs started to shake and I knew I was bonking.  I started talking to my foot, telling it to stay where I had placed it but, it had other ideas.  Before I knew it I found myself falling.

The cool thing was I wasn’t scared.  I knew there was nothing I could do, so I may as well just relax.  That is what I did, I called out “Falling” and just took a deep breath. I didn’t scream or get panicky.  I started to think, “Ok, so what should I be thinking about?  I guess keeping my feet out toward the wall, and relaxing, and gee, this fall is lasting longer than I imagined it would…”   And then I stopped.  “But, hmm… I am upside down that is weird and unexpected.”  And SMACK, I hit the wall, with my butt.  Everyone was pretty freaked out and I said I was ok, at least it wasn’t my head and righted myself.  And then I noticed how far I fell.  Three bolts down, (including the one I should’ve clipped into) not just one.  That was also unexpected.  So then I was a little freaked out.

Instead of stopping and looking and seeing what options I had I just blindly took advice I had been given.  This is not the way I usually climb.  Believe me, I like to get advice from other climbers and I can take advice well; but I also know, inherently, by looking at a move what may or may not work for me.  Sometimes someone from the ground will yell something for me to try and I know right away for me that would be totally wack, because something I already concocted in my head is the way for me to go and so I just go for it, and oh snap, it’s done and I’m past it.  That is how I climb, a series of stopping to think and then movement.

After my belayer and I chilled out after the adrenaline rush we just got, I watched another girl not in our group redpoint the same climb.  When she got past the fourth bolt she went straight up.  She didn’t go right like I did.  I didn’t even consider doing that.  I didn’t even look! Which means I wasn’t even present or conscious during my climb.  No wonder I fell, I deserved to.  That was all me.  Instant karma is a b*tch.

Krysia Hepatica is a mother, climber and adventure seeker.  Her love for climbing was serendipitous; what started out as a hobby for young her son became a passion for her. She’s now addicted to rock and re-arranges her life around both the local climbing gym’s hours, and the all-important road trips to the Red River Gorge! Follow her blog on climbing and all of life’s wonderful adventures here at venturesome krysia.