Hanging by a String

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Pumped arms. Sketchy gear placement. Relying on a nine and a half millimeter rope to save your life in case of a fall. Your face cooking in the hot summer sun as sweat drips down your brow. Success is just one move away. You reach, performing a two handed dyno. The chalk cakes your hand as you desperately try to grab on to that bomber hold. Failure. You don’t reach high enough and your hands slip and putting you in a free fall, as you hold your breath. Six meters of weightlessness followed by an enormous jerk between your legs. Luckily, the gear holds and you are still alive, scratched up and able to climb again. Stepping out of your comfort zone not only makes you a stronger person, but makes life a little bit easier. It all started when I was three. My father took me to the top of Sugar Loaf, the icon of my hometown, Winona, Minnesota. This rock sits on top of a bluff, overlooking the east side of the city. Looking at it, all I think about is 75 feet of pure, exposed rock climbing. After my first ascent, I was hooked; wanting to climb the same route over and over. This I did for a solid three months, conquering this rock face at least four times a week. My skills improved drastically and my father felt that it was time for me to step out of my comfort zone. We hopped in the car and set off in a southeastern trajectory to Baraboo, Wisconsin. Upon arrival, my father grabbed his pack full of gear. I, on the other hand, grabbed my pathetic, uncomfortable thirty dollar harness and expensive pair of climbing shoes and we set off to the east side of the lake. In my opinion, walking into a climb can be just as hard as the climbing itself. I was pooped by the time I reached the base of the rock, climbing over s... ... middle of paper ... ... rock cracking as the nut forms to the rock. No worries though. The nut holds and we are able to continue our rappel down to the bottom. Upon arrival, I let out a huge sigh and realize that I, once again, stepped out of my comfort zone and did something that tested both my physical and mental strength. After every climb, I look back and think of all the things that could have gone wrong. I realize that any slight slip could have resulted in complete failure and ultimately death, which personally, I am not comfortable thinking about at such a young age. It is when we step out of that comfort zone and experience something in life we potentially could have missed, we undergo the greatest times of our lives, making us stronger, well rounded people. Like my father always told me, “A fall is not a fall unless you run out of adrenaline before you run out of rope.”

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