I'd bought some new hooks on Saturday evening, so I was anxious to try them out. If you've never tried it before, using hooks can be terrifying. Mind you, I've taken quite a few falls on gear, some not so good, and countless falls on bolts both in the gym and outside, so committing to a fall is not something that I generally have a problem with. Aid climbing, however, presents a new challenge in this regard. The anticipation, the tension—I haven't perfected moving between aid placements yet, so I have a hard time feeling like I can bounce test a piece without just committing so much weight that I'm along for the ride, if and when something pops (NSFW language).
I place the first hook of my climbing career on what seems to be a decent little bulge on top of a miniature arete up above. I clip the aider and shift a bit of my weight onto the piece in a small bounce test, just to see if the hook wants to move at all. It doesn't, so I steel myself—noticing that it's taking a little longer than usual for me to commit—and I step off of my solid piece below, and into the unknown.
I hang on it for a second, hesitating, and get ready to climb up.
This seems like the most horrible sound you can hear during that moment of tension; rock dust flies, and my knuckles scrape against the rough granite as I fall. Aid climbing lesson number one: Always wear gloves.