The Most Beautiful Word in the English Language

November 29, 2016


Things I Do:

  • Send
  • Fail to send
  • Give up

Things I Do Not Do:

  • Fall
  • Not even once


I’ve been climbing for about a year now, and have firmly plateaued at 5.7/5.8. Which is good, I guess, but I would like to be better. So I signed up for Earth Treks’ Intro to Movement class. Usually Earth Treks classes have about eight climbers, but on the Saturday after Thanksgiving I was the only one who bothered to show up–which meant three hours of one-on-one instruction for twenty bucks. Score.

We spent the first two hours doing fun things like climbing blindfolded and with bells on our shoes, smearing, and there was something about barn doors.

Then he said, “Pick a 5.10a. We’ll work on that.”

“Oh,” I said. “Huh.”

So we did. I chose a 5.10a that looked like fun, and we broke it down to three chunks, with me figuring out the moves from the ground so I wouldn’t waste energy figuring them out on the wall. Yeah, I know. I probably should have started doing this a year ago.

I did the route twice, resting halfway up each time.

“Now you’re going to do it without resting,” he said. “All in one go.”

I pointed out the obvious, which was that we had been climbing for three hours now, and quite frankly, I had been doing most of the work. But he just laughed and told me to get my ass on the wall.

“But I’ll fall,” I said. “I don’t fall.”

“The point isn’t to send. The point is to go as hard as you can.”

“You want me to fall?” I asked.

“I want you to not give up.”

“Fine,” I said. I may have muttered something about sadistic twenty-something hipsters under my breath, but up the wall I went.

Three moves from the top, every ounce of strength deserted my left hand, and I plummeted fifty feet. Okay, five inches. Same thing.

“Gotcha!” he said.

My new favorite word.


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  • Reply Becky November 29, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    I really like this. It’s funny how even when we’re pretty safe, like with a harness and rope, it can still be terrifying.

  • Reply Lynn December 2, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    One summer I went from following 5.6 to leading a 5.10b. But then my climbing partner and I broke up and I haven’t climbed since!

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