David Draper is a man of considerable size, towering over me with at least an extra twelve inches. He is muscular in build and loves his two dogs more than any human I know. We met at the T-wall when I was climbing with Parker Kempf and Evan Raines. Parker urged me to a beautiful 12 called Mrs. Socrates. I was nervous about some loose rock to my left, but Parker assured me that they would not come off. The move looked huge but the gear was good, as Parker had promised.

I found a nut placement from an incredibly awkward stance. Parker coaxed me to go higher. I slapped with my left and then pinched hard, establishing my right foot out to the side. I turned my left hip into the wall and was nervous about having my gear so far below me. I took a breath and locked a finger down into the thin crack and brought my left foot directly underneath me—but that was a mistake. I’m coming off, I thought. The fall felt big, but it felt good to take a winger. It was the first fall I’d taken in a very long time, unplanned and euphoric.

A few weeks ago, I had been climbing with Gašper Pintar in the Creek. I took on a yellow Metolius on Death of a Cowboy (5.13-). Gašper’s observation: “I used to be afraid and what’s changed is that now, I tell myself to go for it. Why not? The gear is safe.” Remembering those words when I was above my last piece, I followed his advice and pushed until I fell.

When I returned a day later, I kept the same head and redpointed it. I remembered the gear and I kept my movement static. I lowered to the ground and that’s when I heard David’s booming laughter. He said, “Bio-mechanically, you have EVERY advantage over most climbers. You’re ninety pounds and got fewer pounds per square inch. You are not too short! All it means is you’ve got to get your ass up and climb harder.”

4 thoughts

  1. I’m won’t be afraid to fall, but I will continue being aware of potential risks around me; fear is no longer in my vocabulary, unless it involves zombies. –I like this!!

  2. After many a tantrum watching my tall husband and short-with-a-freakishly-large ape-index son glide and dyno their way through climb after climb… Thank you, Kathy for reminding me that small works! Though I will forever question those many intermediate moves I’ve been told to use. When asking tall ones to try it with my (handicap, and I’m joking), so far everyone’s understood better how difficult it is when short.

    Which I just realized makes us better climbers than anyone! And congrats on Mrs. Socrates 🙂

    Love you girl, and we best be climbing soon. I’ve hidden behind my injuries too long, hoping to get better before climbing with others so they don’t point and laugh. I gotta get past this so if I don’t commit to climbing somewhere new soon, I’m giving you my address with orders to kidnap me. Btw, this is Jen 🙂

    Have a fucking beautiful New Year! See you in 2016 (promises are truly one of my strong points). Oh and you’re one hell of a writer.

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