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Climb On

Submitted by rockclimbergirl on 2004-12-03

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“You made it! Take a look around… cherish the moment.” Cherish it I did. These words were shouted to me as I hunkered down on top of a massive rock in Joshua Tree. This moment had been imagined and created in my mind many times, but I underestimated the exhilaration I would feel. I looked across the fading blue horizon and then down at what I had just defeated. A little over a minute ago, I was at the bottom of this colossal boulder, and I was a completely different person. At the bottom, I had no idea what I would be like at the top.

It was my first time climbing a real rock. The past year of my climbing had been limited to an indoor rock gym not too far from my house. It wasn’t until I came to Joshua Tree that my callused fingers had touched anything other than plastic. These thoughts kept racing through my mind as I roped up at the bottom. I gawked at the rock as a child does at a gift under a Christmas tree with their name on it. I didn’t know how the rock would feel, yet I knew the surprise would be pleasing and fulfilling. My hands began to fidget and jump with eagerness. As the wind kicked up the dirt around me, as my eyes feasted upon the granite and focused on the one bit of rock I would grab first, I clapped my hands to rid of the excess chalk. The smell lingered and gave me memories of the gym. I immediately tossed those thoughts; this wasn’t the gym. This was the real thing. Still fixed on the rock in front of me, I uttered the three words that would begin my ascent: “On belay? Climbing.”

The rock seemed to reach out to me just as much as I did to it. The coarse granite beneath my dry fingers white with chalk sent a rush of adrenaline through my body. That adrenaline took control and my other hand surged toward the rock. My worn-out-from-excessive-use climbing shoes, previously exposed exclusively to plastic, quickly adapted to the warm surface of the weathered rock. Soon, I was completely attached to the rock. The heat radiated off the surface of the granite and onto me. I entered a rhythmic pattern: search, find, reach, grasp, pull and push, repeat. All the distracting sounds were drained and I was left with a breath and heart beat performing a cadence that I could climb to. Each hold I would attach my fingers to would satisfy my craving while still leaving me hungry for more. The pattern continued, and the warm air engulfed me and gave me a sense of comfort that a heavy blanket would on a rainy night. Looking up and seeing the top nearing, I became a confusing mix of thrilled and saddened. Once I finished, my first climb would be done, and no other climb could be my first one. The sadness then left me and the adrenaline gave one last push; I sprang for that last piece of rock that jut out from the surface of the stone.

A first time for anything is special, but my first climb was more than simply a special event. This climb was a symbol of my life; rocky with some difficult situations going on. Each time I let go of a hold on that wall, I let go of a worry and stress. Reaching the top was more than just a physical success—it was a mental victory over all my obstacles. Climbing this boulder made me realize I can’t climb without first taking hold of something. In climbing, this something would be rock, and in life, this something would be God. All of this didn’t hit me until later that night. I expected the thrill and excitement that came of the climb, however I never saw the revealing of a life lesson coming. The life lesson that came of this climb is what made it so memorable.

After pushing off that one last piece of rock, I found myself at the top. An incredible thrill came over me and an I-want-to-scream-at-the-top-of-my-lungs sensation came over me, but I suppressed it. Jumping and screaming wasn’t exactly the safest thing to do at the top of a rock. I could feel my heart pulsing. My fingers were raw and dead. A stinging sensation came to my leg, and as I looked at my knee to investigate, I saw a rather large scrape. It wasn’t clear to me when it had happened, but the scrape didn’t bug me. All the sound came rushing back and I could now hear everything clearly. “You made it! Take a look around… cherish the moment.”


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