When bouldering in Hueco Tanks this early fall, I discovered something profound. I was working on a problem that started with a series of heel hooks and hand-rail maneuvers, placing my body in a completely horizontal position. The crux move then, was to move from this linear position of balance and tension across the bottom of the roof to a far-reaching right-hand ledge which would cause both feet to fully cut, the left hand secure on the final extension of the original rail.
With the roof but five feet from the crash pad, it seems the swing, reach, and connection would be easily done. However, I fell short each of three or five attempts. I grew frustrated for I knew I was physically capable of doing so. The others had completed the problem. I was the last and only to have not done so. They were ready to move to the next problem. I asked, verbally, if it was ok for me to give it another few runs to which the answer was of course (in the wonderful tradition of climbing culture) a resounding yes.
One individual, whose name I forget, stood very near as I worked through the moves again, beginning to crux. And just before I attempted the move, as my hips swung once to the left to gain momentum for the release, throw, and catch, he said in a quiet voice, “Stop telling yourself you can’t do this. Just do it.”
In that instant I realized I had repeatedly fallen short by just a few inches, each time, because of what I was telling myself. I didn’t even have to convince myself I could, rather, just stop telling myself I could not. And I did.
I connected perfectly. My legs cut. My hands held, I brought up my right heal and placed it onto the same ledge which held my right hand, in a undercut hueco for which the area is famous. And a half dozen moves later I completed the problem.
When I jumped down I landed on a crash pad that sported a hand-painted butterfly. Hannah commented that it was her “send butterfly”, a reminder that she can send problems
As I walked to catch-up with them, I paid close attention to my heart rate, the speed of my breathing, and the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment that raced through my body like a self-injected drug.
And when I further considered what Hannah had stated of the butterfly, a few images and associated connections unfolded that to this day are difficult to describe. That butterfly became a simple yet effective religious-like connection with a super-natural (meaning, greater than what would otherwise be considered a part of the measurable world) animal guide. Believe in the power of the butterfly and you will send the problem. Be the butterfly. Climb.