What I think about when I climb:
- Don't look down
- That's going to hurt if I fall
- I don't like heights
- I'm up, how do I get down?
I am Patrick and I am a scared climber.
Not for me the fancy schmanzy climbing t-shirts, not the oversized chalk bag or personal bouldering mat. Nope, all I have are a knackered pair of shorts, an old running shirt, a unhardened pair of hands (too many years behind a desk) and a healthy dose of fear and love for the brilliant sport of bouldering.
What I love about indoor bouldering is the fact that I can turn up after a day behind said desk, slip in to an unfeasibly small pair of climbing shoes and just go. No faff. No hassle. Just some big walls (to me) and a chance to challenge myself in a safe and supportive environment.
My friend Andy has been climbing for a number of years and kept trying to persuade me to go. Each time I'd make up another excuse, usually fatigue after work, and put it off.
At the heart, I suspect was fear. Thing is I couldn't stop thinking about trying it too.
I think my fascination started about a year when I got chatting to a real cool person at a conference. In the midst of our discussion, the public address system went off "we'd now like to welcome one of the Greenpeace climbers who climbed the Shard in London to protest against arctic oil drilling". And up she got, telling a frankly amazing, toe curling story about this climb. I was awe-struck.
Thing is wherever you look in climbing there will always be people that are better, cooler and more fun (probably). But what I am realising is that climbing doesn't have to be a competition, even with myself.
It's just me and the wall. If I fall, others will help me, collaborating to solve the puzzles ahead, often showing the way first.
We can't all climb the Shard but that doesn't mean any of of our own individual summits are any less important.