By James Letorgeon, a Climb Nashville Manager
Waking up in the back of my Subaru Forester at the crack of dawn, the first thing I smell are the size 9 feet of my climbing partner. I open the car door and I’m welcomed by grey skies and freezing cold air and think, "This is gonna suck." My partner gets up and begins to fire up his jet boil to cook up some scrambled eggs. We will need nourishment for our long day at The Tyranny Wall in the wild and scenic Obed. Halfway through cooking up our eggs we run out of propane and get to eat, you guessed it, half cooked sloppy eggs.
We get our climbing gear and start out on the trail, my partner and I are hiking with purpose. The whole time I'm thinking about a particular route I am wanting to on-sight called, "Tales Of The Sperm." The weather is not looking good and a small part of me hopes it stays that way. This is where the battle within myself starts.
Before I even see my climb I'm doubting myself, and also telling myself, “I can do this." We take a break before reaching Tyranny wall. On both sides of the trail the view is amazing! It makes me think back to the cowboy and indian days, and it humbles my soul.
We continue down the trail as the sun comes out and the weather conditions become perfect. There it is, Tyranny Wall. Its so epic– I felt scared, excited, anxious and calm at the same time. I look at my buddy and say, "We're gonna climb that?" he laughs and says, "Yea boi!” We take off our packs and sit on this massive rock the size of a semi trailer and soak up the glory of this wall, as the Obed river screams through the valley.
Its time, and the bad weather was no longer an out for me. I come face to face with Tales of the Sperm and it is tall! It really does look harder than the picture in the guide book. My partner can see that I am doubting myself and kinda stressing out about whether or not I can do this. He knows I'm capable of climbing this route and encourages me. But why am I doubting myself? Is it fear of what might or might not happen? Why don't I believe I can do this? Why is he so sure I can? The mental battle is overwhelming and he sees it in my face so he says, "Lets get some water and eat some crackers real quick.” I say, "Yeah, lets do that."
Not even five minutes go by, and I cant take the anticipation anymore. I jump up and say, "I'm ready man! I'm about to crush this!" We flake out the rope, harness up, and I start my breathing. Here I go, on my way to first bolt. Once I clip the first bolt I hear, “You're on belay!" At that moment I'm totally in my zone. The only thing I'm thinking about now is the next move and then the next move after that. Half way up the right, I come to another battle within. My hips are at the 6th bolt and the fifth one is pretty far down. I am getting pumped on this crimp rail. I’m trying to clip but can not hang on with just one arm to make the clip! Do I lose focus and doubt myself and fall, or do I just explode to the next move, into the unknown and hope its good? I refocus my breathing. I go for it. It is a high left foot and then I explode to the next hold. I hold on to it with all I have inside me and scream at the top of my lungs "JUG!!!" I made it! I clip the bolt and keep moving to the top.
This was my first experience trusting myself and not letting my mind tell me I can't do something. My next move is a mantle up to a bad rest where I start to feel dizzy and kind of sick, (It could be those sloppy eggs I ate earlier.) Climbing down to the bolt and yelling take will mean defeat. Climbing up to the chains will mean victory. By now I'm so stoked that nothing is stopping me from getting this clean. My last move is pulling up onto a ledge by this nice fat pinch! I stand up and the chains are in my face. They are so shiny and nice , I can not wait to clip those pretty chains!
Its done! My friend lowers me from the top and on the way down I stop to dance on a tree branch like peter pan playing his flute thing. My feet touched the ground! I was so elated that I gave my buddy a huge hug.
Rock climbing has always been a dream of mine that seemed untouchable. A year ago on January 26th, I got a gift certificate to Climb Nashville. After the first day, I was hooked! I must have came in three times a day for 6 months. The staff must have thought I was crazy! Now, I work here at Climb Nashville.
I now realized that I can do anything I put my mind to. I mean, you hear people say that all the time but it really clicks in my head how true this is, in and outside of climbing. Being able to overcome the battle within myself and being truly in the moment out in nature with my friend has been a spiritual awakening. I cant wait to see what else rock climbing will teach me in my life. Can I get an amen!!
P.S “Tyranny I am coming for ya!"