I had started bouldering again after a long break.
I resolved to be kinder to my body this time. I usually did too much before. I would lose motivation climbing for the next few days while recovering.
This time I would settle for doing it as much as possible, no matter how short. It’s more fun and less of a chore if I do it this way.
For the month of May, my target was to scale Wall 3. I had already done Wall 1 and Wall 2 which are unsloped walls. Wall 3 was the first full-sized sloped wall that I am going to climb.
My preparation involves gaining upper body strength to lift my body up. I did this by repeatedly doing horizontal and short vertical traverses on the shortest sloped wall.
Climb up at Wall 3
I attempted my first climb up in the first week of May. I climbed Wall 1 and 2 to reacquaint myself with heights as well as to let my body get used to climbing long vertical traverses.
I didn’t had problems with the lower parts of the wall. I regularly traversed these parts for my warmup.
It got progressively harder when I got to the middle sloped part of the wall. My anxiety kicked in since this was the part where I realized that I could really fall if I don’t muster my strength. Fortunately, my training paid off because holding my body weight while hanging was doable.
The last part after the slope was easy. It presented the same challenge as the first, unsloped part where the holds are positive.
I realized that the main obstacle of climbing Wall 3 did not lie in physical strength. It was powering through my fear of heights. When I start to get anxious, I make poor decisions on my holds and form, making it harder to efficiently conserve strength. This fuels my fear of falling, leading to a vicious loop.
Climb down at Wall 3
I decided to do a climb down on Wall 3 after spending a few days doing climb ups exclusively. After getting acclimated to the holds and height, I gained enough confidence to give it a try.
The new challenge facing me with doing a climb down was that I wouldn’t be able to see where I should place my foot when going down on the middle sloped part. Another challenge was that my upper body strength should be strong enough to be able to support me. I would need it when I am trying to find a foothold on the sloped part.
Climbing down was definitely harder than climbing up. My strength was diminished when doing the climbing up. I had to anticipate both my hand and foot holds more. I am also forced to look down which increases my anxiety.
Surprisingly, I was able to do not just 1 but 2 climb downs. Once I got it once, it was a matter of strength and getting used to it. I needed more recovery time between climbs as opposed to just climb ups though.
Thoughts and Future Goals
Doing these climb ups on Wall 3 were both nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time. It was as much as a mental exercise as a physical one. Trying to use physical strength efficiently without overexertion while fighting my fear of heights and falling. I guess these adrenaline-filled moments are what that climbers live for.
My next goals is to climb Wall 4. I feel that this will be on a whole new level of difficulty. In addition to the sloped part, there is a horizontal slope where you are practically hanging on the wall vertically. I need to build enough strength to be able to traverse it consistently.
But for now, this is good enough.