He reaches up to the next hold, uncertain if his hand can grab it, and his left foot slips off the rock face. He falls. In that moment, fear grips his body. He holds his breath, and his body tightens. It’s ten feet until the rope goes taught and catches him. It takes a few moments to slow down his breathing and come to rest.
Its been a long climb, and a year of training just to get this far. His knuckles are bloody, and his feet are screaming in the too-small climbing shoes. His forearms are jacked, his legs are tired, and he’s looking up at the rest of the wall wondering if its worth it. He could just give up now. He’s gone farther than he ever imagined he would be able to. Yes others have climbed it before, and there are many people who have climbed harder routes. He will never be the greatest climber, so there is no need to push. He could settle on easier climbs going forward, things that he knows he could accomplish. Keep climbing “fun”. Who is he trying to impress by achieving this next rating, this next level? He looks up and the peak seems like it is unreachable, but perception is a liar.
He studies the wall to see if there is an easier way to move up. He takes his time to envision the next steps. He looks inside of himself to find the fire that drove him to this climb in the first place – the part of him that said “wouldn’t it be awesome to have climbed this face? Push your limits and show them they don’t own you”.
He may not get up the wall today, but he swings himself back and grabs hold. He still has a little energy left. He might as well see how high he can make it today, and if he can keep focusing on the next move–just one more hold, one more step–he will continue to go higher than he has before.