I lay there in deep struggle, my face firmly press to the cold granite, and my thoughts clouded by the pain felt in my fingers. I look down at my elbow as a small trickle of blood begins to roll down and drop the ground below.
“I’m dying up here,” I call down to those below. “I don’t think that I can make it. The crack has beat me.”
Of course, I am pressed up against a rock of granite in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada’s rock climbing mecca. This region is known for its tough vertical ascents, sheer rock cliffs, and stunning views from the top of the most impressive walls such as “the chief.” Even the most veteran climbers find their challenges among the poetic cliffs of Squamish. I am certainly no veteran, nor have I ever even imagined myself climbing the crack in the granite I was now 2/3rds the way up.
Just minutes ago I looked up at the wall and excitedly told my guide I wanted to give it a shot. But as I made my dash for the section I thought I was about to climb he stopped me, pointed to a sliver in the wall and said in the clearest voice: “no, you’re going to climb this.”
I laughed for a couple of seconds before realizing that he was completely serious.
Later, I will find out that this is actually a level 11 climb, with level 15 being the most difficult on the climber’s scale. Prior to this attempt the most difficult climb I had completed was a class 8 which I had beat just 20 minutes earlier.
Pressed awkwardly into the mountain, I stretch my leg around in a last ditch effort to reach the next possible foothold and possibly beat the mountain. But my I lose my footing and swing off the mountain, hanging on only with the one hand wedged into the crack. My energy is completely drained and my forearms pulsate in an attempt to regain some energy. I pull myself back into the wall and make one last dive to a hold above, but all my strength isn’t enough. I fall backwards off the wall, the belay gently catching me on my way down.
Today, I have lost my battle against the crack. And as competitive as I am, it’s hard for me to walk away. But at the same time, I like that nature can beat me from time to time. It’s humbling, it puts me in my place, and most of all it drives me to grow stronger. So although I lost my battle with crack, I feel like I can walk away from Squamish a stronger person than I was walking in. The only problem is that after the adrenaline buzz I got up on that cliff, I think I have an addiction to crack.
I visited British Columbia with the #ExploreBC project. For more from that project, and British Columbia in general check out the Tourism BC facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/hellobc