Hands move from one hold to the next. The foot steps up and the body shifts its centre of gravity to load the new holds in the best way possible. Head turns and the gaze looks upward.
It is only one move, a fraction of a second. It is what the camera captures, a glimpse of a body on a rock face.
Inside it is a totally different story and one that may elude the camera lens. Inside the chatter could be driven by fear, the fear of falling or failing. The uncertainty in ones ability causing the hands to grip the holds tighter than necessary and the leg to slightly quiver. Breath moving in a shallow and quick repetition.
Perhaps inside is excitement and joy, prompted by the curiosity and newness of the experience. The climber naive to all that could go wrong. Anchors not holding, rock falling down from above or the inattentive belay, not really sure what is going on either. The joy allows the hands to relax more and the breath to flow more freely through the body.
The only evidence of the climber's true experience is locked in the facial muscles, expression around the eyes, the lips. If the camera captures the expression, more may be revealed to those who do not know the climber. But for those who know their partner, the experience is a different one.
Perhaps it is mirror neurons that allow the knowing to occur even when the climber and partner are not looking at one another. Perhaps it is borne from the habit of experience, watching the climber react when s/he climbs. But it is as if you read the others' mind. You know when s/he is clipping and play the rope out before being asked. You read the subtleties of your partners movements, stance and you know the degree of uncertainty or comfort. In much the same way a mother understands the uniqueness of the cries of her child, where others just think to try a myriad of things; diaper change? food? rocking?
In the ideal partnership in climbing the inner world of the climber is understood and supported with the means, the words or silence that is needed. Whether it is someone knowing when to give a power spot or tension on the rope, or when to give rope, take in rope or give beta (information about the route), these partners are priceless. They are the partners one finds and doesn't want to leave. They are the person who can call you out or be there when the chips are down. These partnerships are deeper than friendships. These partnerships are forged in patience, shared experience and understanding, awareness, empathy and celebration of the meaningless successes. Mostly these partnerships are shaped by kindness and caring; truth and the freedom to be oneself. To accept oneself in the light of another's acceptance... that is a powerful bond.