Back in Her Warm Embrace

Written in December 2004:

Back in Her Warm Embrace

After a disappointing start to Sunday and missing out on the chance to see a great climber at Tampin, I followed my heart to Nyamuk. It was like returning home for the summer holidays after a semester of school. The access had changed somewhat and appeared less inviting, although inside, the crag was still the same.

The sky had threatened to cry all morning, but the weather remained kind to the handful of climbers that made it out there on that quiet Sunday. Aside from a few moments of light drizzling, the predictable downpour that was common to the monsoon season stayed away until the late afternoon.

Feeling rather lazy and admittedly a little intimidated to lead after a long absence from anything remotely difficult I warmed up on top-rope on “Shiok Sendiri” and “Hot Tempered Freaking Glue Guns”. Despite my long absence from the rock, I found her still willing to open safe passage through the crux for me. The doubt came from within, as I hesitated, feeling the pump in my arms while making the traverse on “Hot Tempered Freaking Glue Guns”. My mind was screaming to let go and my body almost acquiesced, when a voice from the ground shouted, “Just go!” I made it through the traverse but I was trembling by the time I got to the rest point. Always, when indecisions like these arise, the end feels so much sweeter for having pressed on and succeeding in overcoming the fear of failure.

The true test was on “Le Futur” and “Pear”. I felt a strong hesitance to lead “Le Futur” after breaking off the critical hold that allowed me to clip the bolt at the first crux. With a little bit of beta from Bird, I found a new passage up. The second crux was somewhat more of a struggle. My mental was considerably weakened from the days away from the rock for the jug seemed farther away and my intermediate hold did not feel as secure as I had remembered.

Still physically capable, my biggest stumbling block was my mind. I was in position to make the dead-point at least three times but failed in my conviction to deliver the move. When I touched down, my initial belief was that I had grown physically weaker and was not able to sustain the route. But in retrospect, as I write this, I start to realize the significance of the role my mind plays, for it was not a physical inability but a mental inability that resulted in the failure to free-point.

By the time I got to “Pear”, it had started raining. I was almost ready to bail but my belayer was encouraging. I felt a lot more focused and had visualized the crux sequence in my head several times before I even tied in to climb. I remember pausing to rest before attempting the crux, but my recollection of the actual climb felt like a dream. It was like playing a melody by heart – I could hear the music in my head even before my ears could listen to it. My body was moving to a rhythm played by the rock as she whispered her secrets that granted me safe passage through the crux. The elevation of endorphins when I free-pointed the route was euphoric for it marked clemency from the rock enfolding me back in her warm embrace as though I had never left.

Even though I know the potency of the power that lies within the mind, I have often defeated myself by not believing in it. Moments like these help to reaffirm that understanding and rebuild the faith. To my belayer who stood patiently in the rain while I climbed – thank you.

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