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Rock Climbing

I love climbing. I can’t explain what it is about climbing that speaks to my soul. Or, maybe I could, but I’m sure my Ode to Climbing would be far to long for a blog post. From the first time I set fingertip to quartzite, I knew I loved scaling rock faces with only a rope and a belay between me and a 100 ft. drop.

Climbing is so much about trust. Trusting your equipment. Trusting your belay. Trusting yourself. I love pitting myself against myself, or against nature. It is so revealing to face the sheer terror of reaching for the next bolt to clip into another five feet of safety. The relief of knowing you escaped a harrowing fall yet again surges while you prepare for the next jaunt above the bolt. It is truly an invigorating exercise in self-discipline.

It is very telling to see how your belay behaves when you are insecure. Everyone has their own style, and the level of trust varies. There are friends I absolutely trust with my life, and there are those that I know I have to trust myself more. I love the complex, yet very simple interactions with another person, with the rock, and with myself.

I have heard several climbing metaphors for life, including the one given by Elder Richard G. Scott at the October 2006 General Conference. I have even given my own version over the pulpit, but climbing is more than a metaphor. It is a defining experience. I learn more about myself every time I go—usually that I haven’t yet learned how to escape from gravity. Maybe I need to deepen my yoga practice.

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  1. Jessawhy says:

    What a great post!
    I love rock climbing, but must admit that I’ve only really done it at the indoor gym. (I did get my own pair of rock climbing shoes for Christmas, once)
    When I was in YW, our Bishop had rock climbing equipment and we used to go repelling (sp?) for mutual all the time. That was lots of fun, and scary, too.
    I’m glad you brought up Elder Scott’s talk because it was really cool how he used rock climbing as a metaphor.

  2. David Williams says:

    Rock climbing is really much about trust. If we have a strong will, then we can do anything. But in reality its a bit difficult task. But heads off to you if you had climed.

  3. Mike says:

    Ditto! Nice post. I’ve only climbed once, but it was a thrill. I can see how people get hooked.

  4. EmilyCC says:

    Zenaida, look at you, rockstar!

    DH and I used to rock climb when we were dating and first married. I miss that ache in my forearms after a good climb.

    There are so many good spiritual lessons learned from climbing. I still remember doing a climb, and I kept going further and further off course trying to find the easiest way up (all the time knowing I was digging myself in deeper and deeper) until I was so far to the right that my rope wasn’t going to do a bit of good if I fell. Getting back to where the rope would be able to do its job was one of the scarier things I’ve done.

  5. Jim Cobabe says:

    Climbing is also about testing yourself, finding your limits.

    For some of us the limit is set far short of the approach to the rock face. We find many other ways to validate our existence.

    Those of us who test our strength and skills by going vertical on rocks are perhaps pursuing application of one of least subtle of testing methodologies — “push the envelope until you fall”.

  6. G says:

    wow… it would be cool to have hamstrings and lats like those!!!

    (I’m such a lazy bum)

  7. Ann says:

    My late father-in-law studied and photographed falcons. My husband read a wonderful story at my father-in-law’s funeral about him climbing up the face of a cliff to get to a falcon nest – without a rope. Once he started up, there was nowhere else to go BUT up. So he kept going. He made it to the ledge, secured a rope, and then used that rope again and again over the next few weeks, first to bring up blind materials, then to bring up the camera equipment to take pictures of the falcons.

    The climbing wasn’t the end result. It was part of the necessary work required to accomplish what he wanted. But years later, he looked at that cliff and thought to himself in amazement not that he had taken amazing pictures there, but that he had climbed it all alone, without a rope.

  8. Zenaida says:

    I wish I looked half as good as the picture I posted. : )
    You know, I think climbing is much the same as everything else in life: we all have our own ways of approaching it. I’ve found a great deal of subtlety and nuance in my climbing experience.
    I am also too chicken to EVER free climb. I’ll admit to bouldering a bit, but anything higher than I can safely roll out of is strictly off limits. I’m all about the sport climb.

  9. Jen says:

    Climbing a rock depends on the trust we have. But its very difficult task. So great if you have climed.

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