I was looking forward to going climbing today. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have any physical ailments holding me back. I was going to work on that V5 from last time and see what new routes were up this week. When I arrived, the bouldering area was almost empty. There were four cool kids together and a few others around but that was it, very quiet. So I went over to the new section and was working on my second warm-up climb when it happened.
I got so scared. My heart was racing, eyes flashing wildly, my hands and feet didn’t feel solid anymore, and the very short distance to the mat was a distressing drop. I felt weak, like my hands were about to give out. What confuses me the most is that I don’t understand why. I have been bouldering every week for six months now. I’ve fallen and dropped to the mat countless times and never been injured. Very rarely do my hands actually give out, and not recently. So this morning I was panicking halfway up a V-Intro (the easiest routes in the world) and it made no sense at all. V-Intro climbs have the most generous holds, they’re made for little kids and people that haven’t been climbing before. I am barely an intermediate climber (sometimes less than that) but I usually feel confident enough on a V3 or V4. I had no business doubting myself on a warmup climb with no witnesses to judge me.
I finished the V-Intro warmup though, despite my panic attack. Once I calmed down a bit back on the ground things went better. I got a few of the new routes today, an easy V1, an embarrassingly difficult V2, and I made it about 2/3 up a Dyno-V4 (with no progress made on that V5). So today was an off day. It happens I suppose. When I get scared with good reason, it makes sense, and I can move on later. But when I start panicking when it makes no sense, with no explanation, that scares me later on as well. I’ve heard of real panic attacks and this was nowhere near that serious. All the same though, I hope it doesn’t happen again.