Banff
Life lessons from rock climbing

Life lessons from rock climbing

My arms were quivering, my legs fatigued, and my fingers were killing me as they dug into the jagged limestone. I cautiously peered below me at the ground that seemed miles away. I was about to lose my grip and I couldn’t see any good hand holds above me. I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride, and yelled below me, “take!” Our Yamnuska rock climbing guide, Rob, made sure to cinch and lock the rope in place before hollering, “gotcha!” I immediately released my death grip on the rock and relaxed into my harness. I gingerly rubbed my aching finger tips while I sank a few inches as the trusty rope absorbed my weight.

I was stuck. It was my very first time rock climbing and after successfully ascending two different faces, I was in limbo on the last climb of the day. Before we even started this endeavor we were briefed on the proper rock climbing lingo. I learned what it meant to belay and how to communicate with the person who literally held my life in their hands. Rob explained that if I got tired, fatigued, or frustrated while climbing, I simply had to call down to my belayer and yell, “take.” That person would then make sure that my rope was locked and secure before they yelled, “gotcha!” It was then safe for me to let go and take a little break.

Rob explained that sometimes climbers get so caught up in getting to the top that they only focus on their hands and they forget to think about their feet. He encouraged me to sit back and relax in my harness, gather my thoughts, and look for a different way to get to the top. It wasn’t long before I found the perfect footing and easily scampered the remainder of the way to the top. Easy peasy.

Yamnuska rock climbing

It didn’t dawn on me how beautiful of an analogy this was until earlier this week. I was stuck on a piece that I was writing. Frustration had set in and I didn’t know where to take it from there. I literally threw my hands in the air, looked at Chris, and calmly whispered, “take.” Confusion briefly flashed across his face before realization hit. He warmly smiled and told me to take a break. We went out and got some coffee while I explained my dilemma. It wasn’t long before I was refreshed and had a slew of ideas on how to finish my piece.

It’s so true. Sometimes we are so focused on getting to the top that we have tunnel vision. We only see our hands in front of us as a means to reach the finish line and we struggle to find the right hand holds. A perfectly good solution might just be under our feet. I have been blessed beyond belief in that I have a number of people in my life that I trust as my belayers. These are the people that I know will yell, “gotcha” when I am fatigued, stressed, and gripping to that ledge for dear life. No matter what problems I may face, I need to keep my belayers close and remember that there’s usually more than one solution to any problem.

Canmore Yamnuska rock climbing

What about you? Who are your belayers in life? Have you ever been too focused on your hands that you forgot to look for other solutions? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Special thanks to Yamnuska and Travel Alberta for the incredible and eye opening rock climbing experience.

20 thoughts on “Life lessons from rock climbing

    • Author gravatar

      Great insight and as always, LOVE your perspective. So refreshing (and inspiring) to hear a young person have such clarity in vision of LIFE! I just want to follow you guys around the world (maybe get an old bus and paint it all rainbow, put a Partridge Family cassette in, and just soak up your brain energy)! I actually love thinking outside the box and always have an A, B, and C plan. Not sure if it has to do with my 20 years in the military, Girl Scout training or just the fact that I’m old 🙂

    • Author gravatar

      Oh the things you can learn when in nature and testing yourself. Kudos!

    • Author gravatar

      This was great. So very true. Thank you for the reminder. I read this at the perfect moment.

    • Author gravatar

      I’ve only ever climbed a rock wall, but I could only get up once. I just don’t use those muscles! ‘Tis quite the work out.

    • Author gravatar

      I love the life lessons you took from rock climbing. Dan is an amazing climber, and I dabble with him a bit sometimes, but I don’t think either of us have ever thought about the belayers in our life. I’m going to have to go climbing with him again soon just so I can think about tunnel vision and belayers while I’m in the actual act. Thanks so much for the inspiration 🙂 What did you think about climbing? Sold yet?

    • Author gravatar

      Ah coffee. My wife and I end up doing the same thing when we’re stuck while writing. We get to ‘take’ a break, and as a bonus we’re discovering the local coffee culture.

    • Author gravatar

      Touché- your perspective is refreshing. We haven’t been rock climbing for a while now, and this post makes me want to go back to it ASAP

    • Author gravatar

      Very cool! I so have to try rock climbing! Did a little rock scrambling in South America but you guys have taken it to the next level! Thanks for the tip -will try to remember to use my feet as well!

    • Author gravatar

      My belayer is the closest bartender. I say “take” and they pour me an IPA or perhaps a Guinness.

      Great analogy between rock climbing and a situation that happened while not traveling. I often find that my travel experiences are relevant in every day life whether it is a mindset or a travel device that helps me figure out a problem.

    • Author gravatar

      This was exactly what I needed to read right now. I love the analogy of rock climbing to life and the idea of a “take.” Beautiful!

    • Author gravatar

      Love rock climbing and this is a great analogy. Although sometimes, its actually better to just plow ahead and see what happens on a wall so you don’t waste your strength thinking about it for too long — just reach hard and go for it, knowing that if you do screw up, someone’s got your back. Both are appropriate for different situations, depending on how tired you are, I guess 🙂

    • Author gravatar

      Sop well written – actually felt like I was climbing the wall too!

    • Author gravatar

      Dear gawd…if your arms were quivering then my would be quaking.

    • Author gravatar

      Love this – I have only attempted a wall and found it so hard. Brave people, you!

    • Author gravatar

      Nice piece. I have those belayers when it comes to career decisions and turns in that road. They always help me attain clarity. There is usually a good bit of wine or margaritas involved…

    • Author gravatar

      very philosophical! its great to appreciate those around you who are there for you!

    • Author gravatar

      That looks pretty hard to do.

    • Author gravatar

      You’re so right, it is wonderful to have belayers in your life. Not only do they support you and catch you when you fall, but they see things from a completely different angle! That extra pair of eyes can make all the difference in reaching a goal! I really loved this analogy. 🙂

    • Author gravatar

      Not easy! Thank for sharing. This is helpful lesson 🙂

    • Author gravatar

      I am sure this was not easy. I also feel like doing it once. I know it is painful but still love to read the post. Will try once

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge