Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Climb

By Nathan Turner

 

It’s the fourth of November, and we are headed from our camp to the climbing site with my Boy Scout Troop 286. I have heard great things about this place, but I feel scared down to my core as I am scared of heights. It has been a sickening fear that I have had since a young age. Then we arrive at our destination. It is a 150-foot sheer cliff shaped in a U with a small indentation on the far side and far back, a dripping waterfall that has little water, and a medium-sized glistening pond in the middle of it all. There are minuscule dots climbing across from the right to the left at a sluggish pace; it is glorious. We get out of the car to realize that I have forgotten my waiver in Cincinnati. My dad tells me not to panic as there are probably more inside.

As we grow closer to the new wooden shelter, I can see that the small dots are actually climbers, inching their way across the cracking rock face like worker ants heading to an anthill. We are all in the shelter now; it is a small, well-lit room with a green tile floor, so I sign my waiver, buy some gloves and a crisp Ale 8, then drink it quickly. One of the employees asks us to follow him outside to do a quick safety instruction. We line up shoulder to shoulder in front of a matching set of harnesses and helmets. The guide shows us how to put them on, one foot through this hole, that foot through that hole, and tighten. After we are finished, he checks that they are safe, and we go to the learning course. Our group splits off into two groups. One half goes straight to stage four; the other goes to the learning course. It is a small, low-to-the-ground, easy-looking course with rebar handles and a small climb up, across, then down. Our group flies through it with ease. Afterwards, he takes a second look at our safety gear and tells us we are ready to go, I am ecstatic as the only climbing I have done was five years ago and indoors.

Our group only walks about 30 feet on a small incline before we are at the foot of the climb. I call being first, but two other people decide to go in front of me. We start to go upwards, sideways, and up some more. Then I realize that it is ladybug season. I am already covered from head to toe in ladybugs only around five minutes into the climb. The rest of the climb is pretty easy; there are some spots that don’t have any rebar and would have very minimal handholds and footholds. Additionally, we aren’t that far off the ground, only about 20 feet or so. I know I am going to be higher up later, so I mess around and do no hands or one foot to freak out my friend. When we get to the end of stage one, we get to stage two.

I am feeling amped up, and I want to go first. The two people in front of me climb down the ladder between stages. I pass it, and they climb up behind me. I climb around a corner, and I can see all six stages and even the other group; we wave and continue. We go farther, and things get a bit more dicey. It is a bit higher, and most of it is up and down. Here is stage three, and the ladder to go up is being used by another group. I say they can go ahead of us, but I don’t know there are 20 people; it is a very long wait. After the final person starts upwards, I get ready to follow after him. It is a 20-foot ladder of rebar. At the top, there is an indentation in the rock face, and we are forced to crawl. We get to a point of traffic when the group of people in front of us stops, so I sit down. I feel a ladybug on my arm, and I try to fling it off my arm. Then I feel a painful stab in my arm, and I realize the ladybug is a wasp. I rush my way to the end and run to the shelter. They say it is minor, and I’m not allergic. I rejoin my group, and we go to stage four. We have heard the beginning is the hardest part, and it is. I have to use all the upper body strength I don’t have to get up. I get too far away from my dad and am yelled at to stay with my adult when I am at the highest point in the climb. I keep my calm and take a breath. I sit there for several minutes, around 10 to 20; I honestly don’t think they are coming. Then I have the idea to just look around for a while. I am looking around at 100 feet high and am not scared. I can see where I previously climbed and where I want to. I can see autumn leaves, the pond, the shelter, and the small waterfall that carved this place out. This is when I realize my fear was all in my head and it wasn’t there in the first place. I feel relieved that I don’t have a weight pulling me away from my life anymore. I can now do many more things I couldn’t do before. When my group catches up with me, I see that one person is missing. My father says one of the scouts couldn’t make it, so he had to go back down since he was in front of them. It is all fine by me because I have a newfound sense of freedom in nature.

We end the climb on a rope bridge, and it, too, is a scary distance off the ground, but I don’t think anything of it anymore. We head back down to the shelter for the final time as it is getting dark. We say our good-byes to the staff and head home. My dad also points out how well I did with my fear of heights, so I tell him that I didn’t really have one in the first place, and he smiles. We end our week at camp with a great cook out and a good night’s sleep.