Monday, September 13, 2010


Sometimes life just makes me plain dizzy. And sometimes climbing does.

Last Sunday Derek and I got to spend a wonderful day climbing at Sandrock, Alabama. The weather was perfect with a warm breeze and fluffy clouds. Derek had several routes he wanted to do, most of which were way past my current physical abilities. I got pretty creative in my attempts to follow his leads, doing everything from placing & pulling on gear to hucking myself up & holding on just long enough for him to take up slack before falling off again.

It was frustrating at times, but a good work out and an obvious wake-up call for me to get back into shape. Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day.

Our last climb on Sunday was Derek's new project - a trad 5.12 that goes up a blank face to the underside of a short roof. Derek made it to the underside of the roof when he hit his physical/psychological wall and decided to try again another day. We climbed up a dirty 5.9 next to Derek's route so that we could rappel down & retrieve his gear before heading home.

At the top of Derek's 5.12, we set up for me to rap down first then Derek would follow. I was going to rappel using a gri-gri on a single fixed line of rope. After double checking the system, I stepped to the edge of the 50 foot cliff and looked down. And the world spun.

I closed my eyes, took a breath, and looked again. Still spinning.

Stepping back away from the edge, I looked at Derek, at our anchor, and at my attachment points to check again that everything was correct. I was not keen on stepping off a cliff to free fall to my death. I realized that I had not had enough to eat or drink, which was the most likely culprit for my dizziness. I understood that my body's reaction was something I would have to overcome if I wanted to get off that stupid cliff. So I checked everything again. I made Derek check everything again.

And then I backed up to the edge and stepped off.

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