In the summer of 2018, Adam, my boyfriend at the time, was my main adventure partner. I realized this was an issue halfway up the first pitch of a climb in Squamish, British Columbia. My heart was racing as I held my breath and tried over and over again to jam my hand in an overhanging, fist-wide crack. As I dangled on the rope out of Adam’s line of sight, I burst into tears, cursing him for choosing a climb that was just too hard for me. “You got this,” he encouraged me from the first anchor. What seemed like an hour later, I fumbled my way up the last 30 feet, frustrated, panicked, and unable to put a smile back on my face. “You should’ve known this would be too hard for me,” I yelled at him as I clipped in, tears welling up at the bottom of my eyes. He apologized, unsure how to react to my volatility. We abandoned our goal and rappeled to the ground.
Adam and I had moved to Bellingham, Washington, together a few years prior to this incident. He was freshly recovered from hip surgery and we were both stoked to add skills like alpine climbing and glacier travel to our repertoire. We loved all the same activities and had similar adventure goals, so other friendships took the back seat while we were together. But when our relationship eventually faded, I was left to relearn how to be independent—in the outdoors and in my personal life.
After Adam, I dated Alex. Where Adam was compassionate and supportive in the mountains, Alex was more logic-driven. When I started to learn his sports (skiing and mountain biking), Alex took on the role of teacher. He was eager to help, but the mutual hard-headedness that