Heading up to the Way Rambo cliff in late November, I had no expectations other than to share a good day and some snacks with my companions. We weren’t the first ones at the crag, but the popular route “Way Rambo”, was empty.
It’s rated 5.12- but perhaps considered a soft 12 for those with smaller hands (that’s what all the climbers with big hands say, anyway). The difficulty of a typical Indian Creek route is typically dependent on size. Comfortable with that particular size, I generously spaced out my gear placements. Near the top, I slotted a .75 in. Suddenly, the crack felt desperate. Hoping that the second traverse on would be as straightforward as the first one, I realized immediately that I was wrong. I spent much too long thinking about the move and anticipating a fall, and then called out, “I don’t want to fall here!” A pause. And then, “Hey, I’m going to fall here!”
Devin jumped to give me a soft catch and I took a big ride.
Most of the time, I’m pretty happy to make it to the top of a route, no matter how many takes or falls are involved. That’s my general attitude, but my companions encouraged me to try one more time. It was hard because I wanted to get it clean on my second attempt.
The thing about letting go of expectations isn’t easy, but the best way to try is to live in the present and stop always trying to think ten moves ahead. Like all of us, I get so attached to the outcome. Sending a route is an amazing feeling, but when that expectation isn’t met, then comes the outpour of negative feelings. It’s something that we all experience, in both life and climbing. But when you skip the expectations, there is less of a rush towards the outcome—less of a race to the finish line. I don’t redpoint climbs, but this trip to the Creek, I went back to three other routes that I fell on last season and sent them. However, the real win comes when you stop keeping score and do what brings you joy for joy’s sake.
Cover photograph courtesy of Alma Baste.