Thank you, Northern Iowa!!!  You are looking at the climbing wall at the University of Northern Iowa Wellness Center.  Six years ago, I took a rock climbing class at UNI.  I knew it was a huge accomplishment at the time, because for the most part I’m not the bravest or most adventurous girl in the world.  Today, I climbed with my friends Alicia and Dave at the rock wall at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and I was scared that I would be going through that process of overcoming my fears all over again. 

Well, we arrived, and the first thing I thought was…Hmm.  This is it?  Don’t think I sound too superior or anything, but the climbing wall at UNO is against the wall in a small gym.  It is not nearly as visually impactful as UNI’s climbing wall, which as you can see is in the middle of the facility and open to all three floors, and not really against a wall at all.  This wall you can see at UNI is about 10 feet taller, which doesn’t sound like much I suppose.  But despite the visual differences, I was still scared of that “glass ceiling.”

At UNI, when I was climbing, there would be one point where I would suddenly be very aware of how high I was.  I would have to just stop, and breath, and get myself focused again, and then go on.  Then, when I was probably 5 feet from the top, there would be another glass ceiling.  This one was harder.  Every time I look up to find the next hand hold, I could see the ceiling of the building, I could see how close I was to it.  There was this war in my head between I can’t do this and I’m so close!  I would have to stop, breathe, talk myself into continuing.  Then I would move one hand or foot, and have to stop and talk myself into continuing all over again.  Plus, by the time I got that far up, I was physically tired so every move was harder than it was near the bottom.  This huge battle made reaching the top, smacking that giant bolt thing that holds the rope, feel like the greatest accomplishment in the world.  This battle, this fear, I experienced every time I went up.  I got used to it, learned how it would affect me, figured out what to do to climb in spite of it, but it was always there.  It was because of this fear that reaching the top was so worth it!

Today, climbing on a slightly shorter wall, I experienced that fear–the first one, where I just breathe and refocus–only once.  The first time I went up, I had to stop, remind myself how much I trusted Dave, who was belaying, and just focus on what I needed to do.  That was it.  I went the rest of the way up.  There was no more fear, that climb or any other.  It’s like doing something harder than a task, so that when you do the task, it’s easy.  The difficulty of UNI’s rock wall made this one a piece of cake!  Not quite such a thrill to touch the top, but still lots of fun.  I hope I get to climb UNI’s wall again someday, or another one like it.  But for now, I’m thrilled to be climbing again!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Doris
    Apr 16, 2008 @ 12:31:23

    When you are trying things on for adventure, another one you may like is the “ropes courses.” We did one in Pueblo Colorado. It really takes the steam out of me but was a really great feeling to say “I did THAT!”


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