Sara MacIntosh
2 min readMay 15, 2021


Legs involuntarily shaking. The chalk I coated my weathered hands with being left behind the higher I get leaving my security one hold behind. My heart beats to a quicker tempo and I am not sure I can keep up with the new racing cadence.

I look down.

15 feet between where my body is and where gravity wants me.

Nothing protects me except me.

Well thought out footwork. Strengthening muscles and parts of my body that seem minuscule yet so vital. Trusting my grip and footing as I put my whole body weight on what seems impossible to hold.

Sometimes, if I am lucky, I send the route.

But in most cases, I don’t, right away.

I freak out. Get in my head. Can’t think clearly about the next move. Bail. Slip. And sometimes fall straight on my back.

Yes, I am talking about climbing, but I am also talking about this last year.

It was a year of bouldering.

So much falling. So much psyching myself out. So much of me staring at the ceiling because I have just fallen off the move right before I get the send.

Defeated. Frustrated. And overall feeling like I will never progress.

But that stirred a tenacity deep inside of me to lean into the fundamentals of trusting my grip and footing. Reminding myself that if I actually trust the hold and fully commit, I won’t fall.

Now I know that this might seem like a vague correlation, but on the contrary, it mirrors my last year.

I fell a LOT literally and metaphorically, but I have become a stronger and better climber and human from it. So many times I found myself sitting on the mats and staring at the wall debating if the send was worth it. So many times I found myself with a coffee in hand debating if what I was running after was worth it.

I wish I could say that I don’t fall off the wall anymore, but I will NEVER be able to say that if I am continuing to grow and become a better climber. Taking risks. Going one grade higher. So in that light, I can’t wait to continue to fall as I learn more. Because falling doesn’t mean I am not growing. Falling simply means I am learning and moving forward.