Story of Overcoming Self-Doubt and Winning

If you had asked me in Sept 2021, “Will I be able to lead 5.10d sport this year?” I would have surely said, “No F***ing way”. But truth revealed itself today when I led my first 5.10d, “Headless Horseman”. Did I progress so well in 2 months? Nope, I was capable of leading Headless Horseman even in Sept, but two things were blocking my way:

Lack of consistent climbing on real rock.

My mind.

In spring 2021 when I first led a couple 5.10a climbs, Irreverence, Orion and a 5.10b Leper Messiah, I learned that I need consistency to push grades. Some brave souls can onsight 5.13s just by being weekend warriors but I needed to consistently see improvements in technique, trusting feet, overcome fear and squashing self-doubt. So, I decided to buy my second house near Smith Rock. This was not an easy decision esp. because to me it seemed unwise to take on another financial burden as I start my PhD journey. But after days of critical thinking and data analysis it seemed plausible. Also, it proved to be a huge time-saver while working hard at work, academia, and rock climbing.

I closed in June, but we did not move until after our last endurance goal i.e., Wonderland trail run in 3 days. From Sept, I was prepared to give a break to my running shoes and focus solely on climbing. We climbed everyday after work and a few hours over the weekend. I made a training plan to lead Moons of Pluto as my first 5.10d but after I TRed Headless Horseman yesterday, my brain was full of hopes and self-doubts simultaneously. It certainly felt on the edge, but it seemed possible for me. Although, I think falls on Moons of Pluto are safer than the arete part of Headless Horseman.

I dreamed about the crux moves all night and was eagerly waiting for morning. Since it’s our 4th day of contiguous climbing, I even did yoga focusing on opening my hips and shoulders last night. For the first time in my 4.5 years of climbing career, I felt that I cannot focus on anything else. I must give it a shot, I must try. Dynamic movements, deadpoints, smear, jugs, arete movements, massive rope drag and scary falls, this climb is complete package. One remarkable thing I noticed today is that despite the fatigue and sustained climbing, my brain was more focused on how to execute the moves flawlessly instead of self-doubting statements like, “Can I, I am tired, I can’t, Its hard etc”.

I realized that the investment is not only giving me physical gains, but unparalleled mental gains and I am just warming up to my true potential.