Okay, let me come clean… last week when I said I was going to try climbing, well it was a lie. You see I’m already a climber a climbing instructor in fact…a climber and climbing instructor who… wait for it… yep, is terrified of heights.
Those who can’t – teach. No insult intended towards teachers.
However, ten years ago I wasn’t a climber or instructor and that’s where I’m going to take you now. So, ten years ago, today, that was the day.
‘Nick’s been dying to try climbing for ages…’ my friend tells the instructor. I’m peeping through the crack in the door, looking at the brightly coloured structures inside… did someone mention dying?
‘Put these on.’ The ‘cheery chappy’ says (there is a hint of sarcasm there; I hope you got it). ‘The yellow bit goes at the front, red loop right leg.’
We did our best. Right foot into red loop, easy… Ten minutes later and we look like two trussed up turkeys ready for Christmas. Let me try and put you in the scene because you have to understand that while all this is going on all we can hear is grunting and blue words being shouted from behind the door that I’d peeped through earlier and ‘Mr Happy’ looks like he’s found his next meal. Oh, and did I mention the storm outside… lightening, thunder. They call that pathetic fallacy in literature…
The pathetic part was me, the fallacy, the misleading notion that I actually thought I wanted to try this thing called climbing.
We’re lead through the door… Lambs to the slaughter… everyone turns and looks at us, everyone.
I wanted to go first; I was younger then, braver…or maybe just foolish.
Up I go on this very easy slab, (slopping climb to the novice, like this shape /). It was easy. I had a feeling that I’d be good at it. So I’m at the top when Mr Personality of the year shouts up, ‘ok, lean back.’
‘What.’ I look down and there it is, the thing I didn’t know I had. A fear of heights, I gripped the top of the climb like my life depended on it.
‘Lean back and hold onto your knot.’
Was this guy nuts? Why the heck would I lean back on the rope, I’d climbed up and as far as I was concerned, I was going to climb back down. The room is in stitches laughing at my performance. The man on the climb next to me soon becomes my hero…He gets into position and shows me what to do. I follow his lead and within a few moments I’m safely back on the ground and hooked on the adrenaline.
It’s weird; I’ve been on many climbs over the years and have ended up literally crying on some of them, only to get to the top and scream, ‘wow! That was amazing.’
There is something about being scared that makes us feel alive. Why not try something that scares you today? You never know it might just change your life…it did mine.