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.
You look at a piece of gear, and despite all appearances of strength and trustworthiness (or the lack thereof), you know that it's good and can manage the task at hand. There may be lingering doubt, but you need to trust in its ability if you want to make upward progress. And sometimes it does fail, as I found out on my second and third knuckle-scraping falls of the day (You would think I'd learn, right?). But if you don't stand up and trust your judgment in the piece you placed, you'll never know whether it would've held or not; and more importantly, you'll never know whether you could have made that one bit of upward progress that brings you just a few feet closer to your destination.