Clinging halfway up a boulder, in the middle of nowhere, a stranger is cheering me upwards. I’ve never climbed outside before, let alone thought of a tiny pebble as suitable to hang off, but right now this guy is telling me I’ve “got this”. He seems to be confident that my newly formed climbing muscles and ounce of technique are enough to top out. I’m not sure I believe him, so to prove his theory wrong, I continue to climb.
What did I know?!
With a bit of unconventional ‘face climbing’ and only a few yelps, of course, I finished the route. I was far stronger than I’d given myself credit for; luckily my cheerleader knew better. Perched on the very top, my confidence swelled and I wondered what else I could do.
You can blame most of my new-found fearlessness on the climbing community. I’ve never met a group of people more supportive than a cluster of boulderers. They get that you’re a bit nervous but they know you’ll overcome that. And they really, truly want you to succeed – sharing buckets of chalk, knowledge and encouragement with anyone who will use it. They’ll offer help by talking you through each move, making sure you’re safe and with words of motivation, each time celebrating each little step of victory.
That’s the thing with bouldering. It’s challenging, both physically and mentally – whilst you test your strength and agility, your brain tries to solve how to tackle each wall-mounted puzzle. Climbing has made me a braver, more confident person. I have more trust in my body, in the decisions I make, and I’m excited at the thought of what else I might be capable of.
‘Can’t’ isn’t a word I use very often now, unless it’s followed by ‘yet’…