Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sara in Colorado: Day 4

Day 4 (July 9th) was rock climbing day.  For those of you who know me you know I have a relatively intense fear of heights yet every year I challenge myself to confront this fear head on and attempt either rock climbing or a high ropes course or both.  This year my good friend Matt who I've known since approximately 1999 was the rock climbing instructor along with his climbing buddy Nick and was assisted by another long time friend, James.

We were climbing on these beautiful red and orange toned rocks.  The boys had set up our ropes on two opposing walls and it was simply put, gorgeous.  Matt and Nick were great at explaining how to tie our own ropes to our harnesses and teaching us how to belay- that is, how to be the person making sure the climber doesn't fall if they slip while on the rock.

Before I knew it it was my turn.  I had my climbing shoes on, my harness, and my helmet; I was ready to go.  I looked at James, who was belaying me and stated, "on belay?"  He calmly replied, "belay on."  I continued our climbing communication, "climbing?" "Climb on" came the response and I was officially on the rock wall.  The thing about rock climbing is, as a spectator, you see all these cracks and ridges and holds for a climber's hands and feet but when you are right there, face to face with the wall it feels impossible.  But it's not.

I slowly began carefully placing my hands and feet on the wall while continually asking James to keep tension on my rope.  I was soon up a few feet and to my surprise felt extremely comfortable on the wall.  My muscles weren't tight, my hands weren't cramping, and my legs weren't shaking.  I hadn't started freaking out.  I was suddenly hit with this feeling that I really could make it!  I continued up until I hit an area of difficulty.

As I paused to assess my options I heard my friends yelling their encouragement and offering their suggestions.  I hoisted my leg up- using my long legs to their full advantage and surpassed the smooth section of rock before me.  I was within two feet or so of the top of the rope but I had moved several feet off to the side from it.  Not about to stop so close to my goal I edged my way, hugging the rock, to the area directly under the carabiners that were holding my ropes.  Another step or two up and BAM my hand reached up and slapped the carabiners!  I had made it.  Insisting upon proof, I had my friends snap a few pictures of me!  It was amazing, I was so comfortable on the rock that I was able to chill at the top enjoying the view and posing.

I'm sure you've all heard the saying... "What goes up, must come down."  After I reached the top, posed for my pictures, and enjoyed the view it was time to get back down!  I told James, my belayer, that I was ready and he reminded me to place my feet flat on the rock wall and to sit back.  This was probably the most nerve-wracking, but it was fun too and I was able to back myself all the way down to firm ground.

Phew, I was finally done.  Or so I thought.  The boys had other ideas for me... scary ideas... like walking backwards off of the side of a cliff.  (That is, repelling.)  I tried to avoid it, but feeling a bit enthusiastic after the best climb of my life I agreed to it.  

First, I had to scramble over a bunch of rocks to get to the top.  Then I hooked into a horizontal line as I edged along the cliff to the repelling station.  Lastly, I received my instructions on how to lower myself slowly to the ground.  After getting strapped in Nick told me I could start.  It was such a weird feeling to me to walk backwards towards the edge of this rock wall and start going backwards.  Once I was on the wall it wasn't nearly as scary since it was a lot like coming back down after climbing.  

And with that, my rock climbing experience for this summit was over.  I was so proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and really not freaking out!  There is a first for everything.

But what do you follow rock climbing with?  Other than a quick rest in my hotel room I followed it with.... A SQUARE DANCE!   Every summer we square dance at the Family Nature Summit and it is a great time!  I threw on my "country" outfit and headed out on the dance floor with my friends!

We partnered up and do-si-do'ed, promenaded, and generally had a great time.  It was actually a pretty decent workout as well.  If you ever get the chance, definitely go to a square dance.

As you can see Day 4 of my Colorado adventure was chock full of excitement... but there's so much more to come.  

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