[Everyone’s got a vice, a bad habit, something they know they need to change. Unfortunately, everyone also has a million excuses why they just can’t do it. Not anymore. Every month we will be following a different CollegeCandy writer as she takes on a personal challenge. Last month Charlotte tried to stop biting her nails. This month, Tiffany is going to attempt to conquer Outward Bound. Can she do it!? Could you?]
Before rock climbing another challenge was thrown at me: SOLO. During solo, the whole crew is separated and we each spend 3 days in the woods by ourselves. Solo always takes place a little after the halfway mark of the trip, so around day 16-18. The three days are meant to give time for reflection, rest, and to test your skills (we each make our own shelter). Oh, and we basically get no food, so a lot a people choose to fast during the time. At the beginning of the trip, solo was another thing I was terrified of doing. But as it neared I got more excited; I mean, this trip is soo strenuous I was just ready for the opportunity to rest. And that’s exactly what I did. I’d like to say that I had some great spiritual experience like others in my group, but mostly I just slept and talked to myself (I got lonely). And I was hungry. Eating only 3 ounces of trail mix and an apple barely made a dent in my hunger, so I like to think fasted anyway. And even though I don’t like pancakes, it was the best meal I’d ever tasted after 63 hours in the woods. Now from one challenge to the next, it’s on to rock climbing.
Rock Climbing Day One: For the first time this whole trip, it’s raining. The rain is just an added bonus to North Carolina slab climbing. You see, North Carolina is known for its slab rocks, which don’t have a lot of features to grab onto or prop yourself up with. A lot of slab climbing is about really trusting yourself and your feet to support you, at least that’s what my instructors kept on saying. It’s a bit hard to trust your feet though when it’s raining and you’re climbing in a cloud. The climbing itself is hard, but the thing I had the most trouble with was belaying my partners. As always, I had trouble with picking up a new skill so quickly and this time there’s the added bonus of being responsible for another person’s life (pressure much?). To cope with my lack of skills I just belayed extremely slowly, which is annoying for a climber to have to wait for their belayer… but better waiting than death.
Rock Climbing Day Two: The rain persists, which is bad enough but on top of that my glasses broke! I woke up this morning and one of the legs of my glasses snapped. Due to the moisture in the air, the duck tape wouldn’t work so I had a pair of sunglasses on over my glasses to keep them in place. And on an overcast day, this little step up basically left me blind; which was great since we learned how to rappel today. Once again, I was scared out of my mind as I found myself dropping 400 feet down the side of a mountain. I kept on tensing up and forgetting to lean back, so I found myself singing Fat Joe’s hit song, “Lean Back.” Rap really must be a motivator for me. Straight after rappelling I had to climb back up, which I did with little to no vision because of the sunglasses on a cloudy day. But you know what? I actually found myself more willing to trust the little dents and eyebrows as opposed to doubting them. I climbed up with minimal help and it felt good.
Rock Climbing Day Three and Four: The next two days flew by. I woke up on day 3 with a determination to not ask for help while I climbed, belay better, and to not let my fear get the best of me. And as corny as it sounds, a new attitude made a world of difference. Both climbs were relatively more difficult because of the higher elevations. Due to the higher elevations, we were taught to multi-pitch. When a climber multi-pitches they are re-setting the rope length at check points on the rock, since the rope isn’t long enough to go from the base of the rock to the top. Even more than regular rock climbing, multi-pitching requires a lot of trust since you are not attached to a rope at some points, so everyone must be on their A-game to keep one another safe. The rock we climbed was also more difficult due to the cracks and crevasses we went up. Day 4 we climbed Looking Glass, arguably some of the best climbing in the southeast. I climbed a route called Second Comings, located next to Rat’s Ass. The route contained one of these giant crevasses, which I couldn’t climb correctly. I spent around 20 minutes stalled at this one part and in the end I had to climb my partner’s rope a la gym class. I felt utterly embarrassed but the more I reflect on it, the more I realize it doesn’t really matter. I mean I only started rock climbing three days ago, so I can’t beat myself up about it. Getting to the end of the climb was on the best feelings I’ve ever had. While I waited to rappel down the mountain, I was on top, by myself—just me, the sky, and the hawk circling around it.
Check out last week’s adventure right here