I had a late request to run a climbing wall session for the local youth group this afternoon. Mostly it was as it mostly always is with kids. Mostly.
Mega energetic to begin with. Then bored. Then mischievous.
Round the left hand corner of the wall there was a small (4 foot nothing) 8 or thereabouts year old girl starting on a steep route of about 5b (aka hard if you’re only 4 foot). she set off in her Nikes and moved slowly. I left the youth club leaders to entertain those that had lost interest. I climbed the route parallel to the girl and pointed a few holds out to her.
I could see she was mentally solving a jigsaw of the holds and getting a bit exasperated and tired by her lack of reach. A third of the way up i asked her how she was doing and whether she would like to go up or down (by which i meant on to something easier).
With her feet slipping on the wall and her fingers straining on the holds she looked at me and said “why would i want to go down ?”
She topped out when all the other kids had de-kitted and were charging around the gym. Unsure, as all climbers are, with the sensation of being lowered back down, she overcame those nerves and made it to the floor.
She had had to come down eventually, but it was on her terms.
I shook her hand and told her that her “why would i want to go down” comment was such an inspiring thing to have said.