I fell in love with climbing six years ago. Right off the bat I was a confident climber and improved my grades quickly, which encouraged me to jump into trad climbing only two years later.

Shortly after my introduction to trad, I hit a plateau that many climbers experience when climbing becomes more of a mental game than a physical game. Coincidentally, I was also in a relationship with a stronger trad climber around that same time. We wanted to climb amazing, fun, and hard multi-pitches together, but they were way above what I was comfortably leading mentally. Consequently, I never led. We fell into this groove of him leading and me following on every climb, even the ones I felt confident following without hesitation.

I climbed like this, constantly in the backseat, for three years and eventually lost all my confidence to lead. I had backpedaled to the point where I was freaking out on 5.7’s. I started to hate climbing and was frustrated at my inability to overcome this mental block. My attitude towards climbing at this time felt like the complete opposite of what climbing had meant to me in the beginning.

So, I took a four month break and hit the rest button on climbing and my life. My first day back in the gym after this hiatus was surprisingly fun! I went with people who didn’t climb for grades but for the pure enjoyment of the sport. I made a conscious effort from then on to find climbing partners who embodied the same mindset.

At this point in my relationship with climbing I applied for Mountain Mentors. I have worked hard this summer with my amazing mentor, Amy Bender, to get my lead head back. I have come to learn the value in “taking the lead,” in climbing and in life. At the end of the day, I am the only person who can take on the challenge of being on the sharp end.