Jeez, even as I write this, I'm already terrified. Ugh.
I'm not the type to publicly declare goals and aspirations. I like to keep things pretty close to my heart (mostly because if I fail, you'll never know 😂). Another reason I don't like announcing stuff like this is because what starts as a "holding me accountable" situation turns into a "this is too much pressure" kinda thing and then a "I give up" moment.
Plus, declaring climbing goals is so... bizarre. I feel like it opens me up to judgement and criticism from people who don't have any business judging me. If I'm honest, I'm afraid that people are going to think I'm not a strong climber and for some reason, that thought cuts deep.
The truth is, I'm not a professional climber nor do I have aspirations to be one. So that in itself means I likely won't have the time to ever realistically hit crazy hard grades. So if I give myself that grace and realize that truth, then I can stop being so hard on myself.
I'm writing this post and starting this journey because my hope is that someone else out there may be in the same boat and we can get through this together. Plus, I want to prove that goals can happen any time - it doesn't have to be a new year or anything special. Sometimes, you can just be ready to make a change.
This time, though, my goal is simple:
I am going to dedicate more time towards focused climbing training. Why? In training, I want to fall back in love with climbing.
Let me explain.
I started climbing in 2016 (omg, is that really 6 years ago??? shouldn't I be pro by now??) when I made it onto American Ninja Warrior. It's quite random, but I was a writer for a fitness site at the time and one of my assignments was to interview ninja warrior athletes and see what it took to get on the show. It was kind of a joke but kind of not. When I got a call from NBC, I realized that this was very real.
I've always been athletic but ninja strength is next level... and I was not even close to being there yet. Good for me because I got the call two weeks before the competition! I joined a climbing gym because I knew I had to get my grip strength up to par. At this point in my life, I had only bouldered 3 times... ever. So, yes, things were looking up for me 😂
I climbed every single day until the show and my highest high point was an orange V2 that I was SO PROUD OF. It was hard, okay?!! It was the crimpiest crimp fest I had ever crimped.
Filming day came around and I got called to do my run at 3 or 4am - I can't quite remember. I do remember splashing into the water, though. I didn't get far on the course but I had the time of my life. I look back on that time I genuinely feel really proud of myself.
For those wondering, here are pics to prove it happened. If you're really dedicated, my audition video lives on YouTube. I will not link it here because it is incredibly embarrassing but it's also too funny for me to delete off the internet.
Anyway, the competition came and went. I decided that the ninja life wasn't for me but the climbing thing? I wanted to keep doing it.
The weird thing is that I'm kind of an unlikely climber.
I am terrified of falling, I've been stuck on top of boulders in a panic attack, and when I dyno, I actually get further away from the intended hold.
But, I love it.
Or actually, I loved it.
Shortly after I started climbing, I met my now-husband Nick and together, we traveled the world climbing. We were always on a climbing trip on the weekends and then we'd spent our weekdays honing our trad skills. Yosemite, Squamish, Thailand, Tahoe, Colorado, Bishop, Vegas, Zion, Moab, Joshua Tree, Tahquitz.... and SO MANY more. These are the places we fell in love with each other and with climbing.
Over these few years, I became so strong. I had goals and I wanted to get stronger. I wanted to comfortably lead trad and pull on hard problems. And I did.
In the gym, I was consistently climbing V5s and projected 6's and 7's. I did one 7! It was green! For ropes, I was consistently doing 11Ds and playing in 12 territory.
Outdoors, I sent my first ever V5 - Gleaming the Cube in the Buttermilks. I was fearlessly onsighting and leading 5.9 trad climbs and if I wasn't so scared of whipping, I feel like I could have easily pushed myself to 10s. Oh and offwidths? I LOVED THEM.
Writing this all out, I know there will be people who think these are low grades. I don't care. For me, it was a big deal. I stand by that and I choose to be proud of it.
Then, the world changed. The pandemic hit and we just stopped climbing as much.
I remember the early days when we would hang board every day to make sure we kept our finger strength. But days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. The hang board got dusty and our trips were no more.
Once gyms opened up again, we went back but I stopped feeling that fire. We still went on trips to Joshua Tree and climbed at our local crag, but I felt dread more than I felt excitement.
After our wedding last year in May, I fell into really intense fatigue. It was almost like all that wedding planning and stress finally took over my body. For months (legit MONTHS), I couldn't work out, let alone climb. It's a long story for another time, but I spent the last half of last year trying to recover. I am better now, but I miss that intensity and drive I had for climbing. Somehow, it just all dissipated.
That brings us to right now. Time has passed, my calluses have softened, and my fear for falling is back (we don't have to talk about how long I was stuck on the auto belay last week). I'm pulling on climbs that should be warm ups and instead, falling off.
And you know what?
I AM SICK OF IT.
This is me giving myself a little bit of tough love. I've resumed lifting and my hard workouts but I've slacked in making it to the climbing gym. I'm currently vaguely projecting this tricky pink overhang and I KNOW that I can do it.... but, I can't. And it makes me mad.
I'm fine, I'm okay. But I'm officially here to say that I am resuming my climbing training in order to get that fire back.
So, what is my why?
It's not the grades.
Sure, I'm going to use them to track relative progress. What I'm really looking for is to increase my climbing stoke, get out on more climbing trips, seek out some fun outdoor projects, and basically rediscover my old self.
I remember the first year I was climbing, it was my refuge. Topping out on a seemingly hard problem made me feel invincible. Feeling myself progress brought me complete joy. Dedicating myself to this new and unlikely sport brought me a sense of peace I hadn't felt before.
... all these things – they are the reason I climb.
Does it feel weird to be confessing all these feelings to you as the owner of a climbing company? Of course! I still love this community and the sport, but my personal relationship with it is one I want to work on. Think what you may think, but in doing this, I hope it sheds light on how it's okay for feelings to ebb and flow. I know I'll be back on track soon.
So, about that training plan. I'm working on a dedicated climbing training program (which I will share with you as soon as I've dialed it in) and then I'm using my handy dandy Climbing Training Journal to track my progress. Peep my goals below.
I challenge you to join me! You can grab your own Climbing Training Journal here and starting tracking your progress right along with me. Whatever your goal, let's do this together! I'll be back at some point to give you an update. Maybe next week? Maybe two weeks? Let me know what would be most interesting to you.
Okay, well that's it on today's very long and vulnerable episode of me and my feels on climbing. Time for me to head to the gym. Big hugs and happy climbing, friends!
Founder of MONOPKT.