I remember standing there in absolute awe. Out in front of me was the most incredible thing I had ever seen. Then I looked down and about lost my stomach.
That is how I felt the first time I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon. It may be beautiful, but as soon as I looked down that beauty turned into fear.
I remember the first (and only time) I went to Cedar Point. It was with my church’s youth group in middle school. In reality, I like the idea of roller coasters, but then I remember I am blessed with my father’s motion sickness. Add that to my fear of heights (as described by my Grand Canyon experience) and that combination isn’t exactly a match made in heaven for being a roller coast enthusiast.
Fast forward to Honduras earlier this year. Rachel and I have been on an incredible adventure swimming under and around a 140 foot waterfall. Our private tour is about to end when we approach an almost 30 foot cliff. Our tour guides turns around and looks at us, smiles, and jumps. I walk to the edge and there he is swimming in the river beckoning us to jump as well. After a minute I go, and a few minutes later I go again, and then again. It might have only been 30 feet, but it was a big step for me.
Friday night Michael Lynn and I met our friends Pablo and Ruben for tapas. They were the two guys that we were going to go rock climbing with the next day. After tapas we were walking to another bar when Ruben asked me if I was afraid of heights. I told him “un poco” (a little), and he quickly retorted that you either are or you aren’t. I said that I wasn’t. False.
However, Saturday afternoon came and this was me:
I am not the best when it comes to estimating heights, but if I had to guess I was at least 40-45 feet up at that point. Afraid of heights yes, but at that point I had so much adrenaline running through me I had no idea how high I was.
My first time rock climbing has come and gone and as my mom asked yesterday on Google chat “You are still alive?” It was an incredible adventure that allowed me to challenge myself in a totally different way, and in the process that challenge greatly humbled me.
Ruben and Pablo met us at the flat around 10:45 and we followed them for about 10 minutes to the rock-climbing destination. After wading a knee-high creek we trucked through a large field that led us to the base of a large open faced rock. Ruben and Pablo took out their gear and quickly suited up for the days first climb. Ruben went first connecting karabiners to the clips drilled into the face of the mountain and setting the climbing course that Michael Lynn and I would soon follow. After he came back to Earth’s horizontal surface Michael Lynn went first and did extremely well. She had done some rock climbing at her local gyms in Texas but this was no comparison.
After watching Michael Lynn go up and down I was ready, and I had the adrenaline boiling to prove it. I suited up in the harness and quickly began my ascent. With my adrenaline running I made it a good distant up but suddenly, at about the time the first picture above was taken, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and all the air had been pushed out of me. I looked down (probably not the best thing to do at that point) and got a little dizzy. I quickly regained my composure and tried to make it a little further up but it was to no avail, my body was no longer going to listen to my mind. I hollered down to Ruben, who was my anchor on the other end of the rope, and told him that I was coming down. He loosened the rope and I scampered down.
A little disappointed I knew I had to try that again, and with a different mindset. I was very quiet for the next hour as we switched to a different area of the rock face to do a different climb. I was trying to control my adrenaline and focus on the task at hand. Finally, it was my turn again. The first part of this second climb was going to be a little easier, but it got pretty difficult after that. I was able to get through the first part without a problem, but soon the face did become more difficult and I was beginning to feel that lack of physical strength that I had quickly felt after my imaginary swift kick in the stomach on the previous climb. I sat there for a minute on the face of that rock. The Mediterranean could be seen off to my left, I had Spanish friends hollering at me below to be “fuerte” (strong) and to keep going. I tried once and quickly lost my handle on the rock. Thank goodness for rock climbing equipment. After a small fall and a jolt, Ruben (my anchor again), kept me in the same general area I had been in and I scampered back over to the place I had been. I tried again, moving one foot over, but I could not find a place for my hand. I moved back to the previous spot. I felt around the rocks, dipping my hand into the chalk bag attached to my waist for more grip. I felt around again. Nothing. “How in the world did Ruben ascend this face 15 minutes ago? Oh, that’s right, he’s been climbing almost every weekend for several years.”
I tried again, but still nothing. At this point my legs were shaking and my upper body and arms were struggling. Talk about a humbling experience. After making it about a third of the way up the most difficult part of the climb (I estimate I made it about 55-60 feet on this climb) my body could no longer do what my mind wanted me to do.
When can I go again?
Enjoy these pictures.