The dull, numb ache in her arms wasn’t enough to stop her from making that final leap.
All fear in her head was replaced with courage and a slight tone of something else, what was it, ah yes a certain element of over-confidence, of cockiness. The burning desire to be better or just as good as the rest eliminating all sense and better judgement.
She eyed her target, not even considering the fact that she might not make it. She was good enough, wasn’t she? Surely she had this, she wasn’t going to miss.
The climb to the top had been relatively easy, adding to her self-assurance. Despite the fact that the session was drawing to a close, the overhanging wall had loomed ahead of her, beckoning so she couldn’t resist.
The encouragement resonating from supporters on the ground pushed her towards the crux, nearly 4 metres from the floor.
It was further away than she initially anticipated, both the floor and the finish hold. But it didn’t stop her planting her feet, twisting in and lunging upwards.
Everything blurred. She felt a rush of exhilaration as the air rushed through her hair. For a fleeting moment she experienced a feeling of triumph- all too premature. Her fingers brushed against the hold but it wasn’t enough. There wasn’t the force or the power to fly her towards the top of the hold where she could firmly grip and call victory.
Before she knew it the floor had reached up to swallow her twisted body. Slamming into the padded floor that did little to stop the shock waves that rippled up her body. A breath escaped her lips, her eyes firmly shut.
She lay still, one single thought lingering in her head.
‘I’ve broke my back.’
Tentatively she moved her legs, flooded with relief as they twitched nervously.
A single obscenity was released from her crumpled body. She was frustrated. For being so cock-sure, for taking the chance and frustrated for failing.
Pulling her legs to her chest she tried to stretch out her back, pain searing through her muscles. Slowly she crawled to a sitting position before rising, aided by those around her. Shaky and relieved she still had full mobility, she walked away from the wall.
It was a scary experience. One that I have not repeated. One that saw me refrain from climbing and yoga for over three months. One that knocked my confidence in climbing more than it knocked the wind from me.
I still find it difficult to climb at that particular bouldering centre. Where the walls are extremely high. It’s been a year and sub-consciously I still think of falling. I don’t push myself to climb harder, unless I’m on a rope and even then I don’t ‘top rope’.
I could easily have landed more awkwardly than I did. Easily have broken or dislocated arms or legs. Landed on my head or neck.
Maybe that’s why I don’t push myself as much anymore, next time I might not be as lucky to walk away with just a painful back.
I learned a lesson that day.
Don’t be such a cocky ass when you are still relatively a beginner. Especially 4m from the floor!
(note: they are not my manly hands in the picture!)