"This is what fun looks like. This is what fun feels like."
These are the mantras that circulate in my mind as I reach as high as I can - searching for a good climbing hold and all I find are loose rocks.
"This is fun. I am pushing my limits. I am experiencing new things. I am adventuring".
I keep climbing, reaching, searching, not finding good holds, breathing in, breathing out, doing everything in my power to stay calm.
"Fuck. I'm gonna fall and kill someone else in the process!"
I freak out. My breathing becomes sharp and short, tears start running down my face and I start sobbing like a little kid.
When I signed up to do all the 14ers in Colorado, I was expecting long days of walking in nature with a bit of scrambling here and there, not unprotected class 5 or 4 climbs. I had no idea I would be putting my life in danger climbing sketchy formations.
Let me clear something up:
I am NOT a daredevil.
I take calculated risks. If I am not 100 percent sure that I can do something, I don’t do it. I train progressions over and over again. When I am confident in myself,with lots of control, I move forward towards accomplishing my task.
Now I am free soloing the Maroon Bells traverse with Sam and Tom. They warned me that there would be some free climbing and I thought I’d be fine with it. But the exposure, the wind, (and the goat that kept following us throughout the day ???!!!), got the best of me.
Now I am hanging from a rock crying. Not the pretty tears slowly flowing down my cheeks cry. No. This is full on sobbing. I want my risk calculator! I want to train progressions first!
On any given day, on a regular climb, I would have no issues with this. But every hold I reach, every rock I touch *seems* to be loose. I am second guessing my abilities. Mainly because I know that if I fail, someone else will get injured and that's worse than me getting injured.
'Trust your holds. Trust your feet. You can do this,' they say.
Trust what!? My running shoes? The loose rocks? The fact that if I fall they *might* push me to safety? I don't do these types of things! And right now, at this very moment, I am second guessing why I am here in the first place.
I’m told this is called type II fun. I've heard about this before, but until know I have never experienced it first hand. At least, I do not recall ever going through all this misery and still feel the need to label it *fun*.
Type II fun can be described as "…God-awful while you’re doing it, but totally worth it once you’re done." ~ Alex Blackmer
"Why am I here? Why am I risking my life or my health to be here in the first place? Is this worth it?" As I ask myself these questions I get a text from my 9 year old niece. 'I Love You'.
As I continue to place my life in seemingly dangerous situations throughout the rest of the day and throughout the rest of the 14ers climbing adventure, what flashes before my eyes is not my life, it is the faces of those I love, and those I miss dearly.
I still climb. I still fear heights and falling. I still cry when I have to do a simple or complex move without protection and I still see those I love in my mind’s eye. The difference is that now, I know why I do this: because the alternative of not risking it, of living a safe life is much scarier. And because I know that once I get back home, I will get to share these stories with the people who flashed into my mind and I will tell them I think about them and that I love them too.
To learn more about the different types of fun visit:
When Fun Isn’t: A Guide to Type II Fun