This past weekend was the Pathfinder, the annual toprope competition at GVSU. I made it to the finals in the intermediate division for women. I took second place. But what matters most, is that I had a great day.
Amongst the nicest group of people on earth.
I once said this on my facebook status. Climbers are the nicest group of people I have ever met. Period.
It happens after every competition. I find myself thinking that rarely in life do you find a group of people who don't know each other, or don't know each other well, yet support each other so fully. During or after a climbing competition, I am always surprised when people approach me and speak as if they know me, when sometimes I have absolulely no idea who they are. I suppose it would be nice to think they remember me for my climbing ability, but that would be silly. I am a not a terribly good climber. I am just average. But I am also old for this sport, or at least, old for a female climber in this sport. So maybe that sets me a bit apart and makes me more memorable.
The majority of my "competition" are twenty something's, with a couple teenagers thrown in for good measure. Where else can you find a sport where such a diverse age group can participate and yet still have some friendly competition? Not many places, for sure.
But the thing that strikes me after every competition is the feeling that everyone in the place is rooting for you. There is a collective sigh that happens when someone is struggling for the next move, and misses. And a joyous yell when someone does make it further or even finishes a route. I absolutely love that.
Climbing, to me, is such an uplifting sport. Even if you feel like you had a bad day, or didn't do as well as you had hoped. I guarantee someone praised your effort along the way and made you feel good about something you did. Successes are celebrated, noted, encouraged. Failures are commiserated and shrugged aside with comments like "You'll get it next time. You can do it! And, You got this."
I love rock climbing. I love climbers. I love the power it gives every person to challenge themselves, one move at a time (literally) to make it farther. Well, farther up the wall, further on their personal journey. Hmmm... I still might be confused. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/further-versus-farther.aspx
Thank you climbing family for always making me feel welcome. Regardless of my age or my ability.