I remember the day I first held my tools in my hands. My boyfriend and I drove 3 hours just to buy them cheap. And then I think we went to buy underwear.
I didn't have any money in my pocket at the time, but I was so fascinated by this crazy discipline where you climb through big roofs while hanging on ice axes. For the rest of November I only ate spaghetti and tuna, but every afternoon after work I couldn't wait to run to the old cave near my village and train with my new favorite toy.
Five years went by so quickly. Hundreds of winter evenings sitting there alone in the dark, conserving my headlamp batteries between laps. I grew, reached one goal after another.
Now here I am, in the middle of this huge roof, lost in a sea of quickdraws, trying to shake the tiredness out of my forearms. If you're into dry tooling on this planet, you've heard of this cave. Tom Ballard's mystical playground, home to some of the world's toughest routes. Epic battles meet the stronger toolers, always overhead.
And this is the Parallel World, the grand prize, the toughest of them all.
I look into the distance where I started this climb. Max is a little figure down there, feeding me the rope that hangs from the countless quickdraws like curtains in a circus. I also look far away at all the evenings, the pain, the sweat, the tiredness. I recall the feeling of security here, my cave. The heartbeat in my chest slows, strength returns to my hands. It's time to leave.
I know that last sequence like you know the steps of a dance. The legs move harmoniously over my arms, I swing and follow the rhythm. And now here I am, taking the last massive lunge. I pause once more to breathe, to gather my strength. It's been almost forty minutes that I've been hanging on these devices, what's the point of a few more? Let's do the rounds!
Suddenly I hear this voice that I know only too well, it's my body speaking to me. He says it's time. I throw myself towards the hole, way up on the slab. I miss and fall again. But that's good, I need the momentum. So I swing back and this time it's a little. As I clip the rope, with a lot of strength left in the tank, I'm already thinking about how far the limit actually is. But then I smile and look at Max, who is crying and calling my name.
Parallel World has been a wonderful springboard. A way for me to measure how far you can go when you're sitting in a dark cave and focusing all your efforts on one goal.
Sometimes your dreams shatter in the world. But sometimes, if you're lucky, it's the dreams that crush the world.