Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Of rocks, 70-degree grades, and the noonday sun...

Over this last weekend, a good friend and I went on a bit of a roadtrip. Down into SE Ohio, over into West Virginia, and back again.

Not long ago, in my list of the top 100 things nobody knows, I mentioned a paralyzing fear of heights. That's something that will definitely be worth remembering...

You see, we went to Valley Falls in WV. It's a beauty of a park, though tough to get to and technically a demanding walk. After some time wandering on the established paths, the most irritating thing possible came to pass; there was no more path. The path ended, and gave no way back. It was either turn around and walk the path in reverse, or find something better.

Every cloud bears a silver lining. Wandering around, trying to find better ways, my friend stumbled upon a small pool fed by one of the rivers. As she encouraged me to start climbing the rocks over to see it, I noticed something special- a beautiful little waterfall, just carving its way through the rocks. That settled it. I was going over, as far as I could make it safely. After a few minutes of paralyzing fear, I found a clear way. I was rewarded with an excellent view.

Yet, there was a single problem. No way back, except how I got there. Rocks that were gently sloped on the side I initially trod were nearly sheer and vertical on the side I would now need to tread. After some pondering, a wink, and a "Follow me", I started up the safest path I saw. Technically, it would class a 2.

In mountaineering parlance, a Class I is simple: Walking up a gentle grade. Class II is a bit different, using one hand as an aid to climbing. Class III requires four points of contact- feet and hands, feet and knees, some combination. Class IV requires the use of other objects- saplings for support, or something stronger. Class V requires rope and specialized gear, with Class V.13a as the hardest climb ever completed.

After working up that, there appeared to be a path at the top of a seemingly moderate hill. Whoops. Thanks to tricks of distance and scale, the hill looked about 30 degrees elevated. It was about 70, once we started. Class IV. Remember that fear I mentioned? It was challenged by the rocks, but this set it reeling.

What did I do?

Well, what could I do?

It was a challenge, a direct gantlet thrown in front of my inborn stubbornness and fears. That could not be allowed to stand. Though a quiet voice in my head told me I was insane, I had to try.

Half hour, about a hundred and fifty feet and four slips later, I stood at top. Hot, dirty, but happy to be there. I faced down a challenge, and I faced one of my strongest fears, and on that day, I won.


Blogger Bainwen Gilrana said...

You should be extremely proud of yourself for finishing that climb. It was an impressive one. I was bursting with pride for you. :-)

Besides, what kind of summer would it be if we didn't put life and limb in danger at least once? :-P

8/16/2005 8:39 AM  
Blogger clew said...

YAY for you! I still can't even get up on a chair to reach the back of the top shelf without my butthole puckering!

8/16/2005 10:58 AM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

Yeah, I was temporarily insane. I know this. ;-) Thanks for the assist, Bainwen. :-)

8/16/2005 12:20 PM  
Blogger Bainwen Gilrana said...

Though a quiet voice in my head told me I was insane, I had to try.

That wasn't a quiet voice in your head. That was me! And yet I climbed the mountain with you anyway.

Yes, it was insane. Quite thoroughly insane. But we did it anyway. :-)

8/16/2005 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Naneth said...

You know, speaking from personal experience, insanity can be the most fun EVER!!!

You accomplished something huge, Tirithien! That's something not too many people can say. Good for you!

8/21/2005 4:36 PM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

*blush* :-o

8/22/2005 12:46 AM  
Anonymous Naneth said...

Aww, you're so cute when you blush! :o)

8/22/2005 1:59 PM  
Blogger Bainwen Gilrana said...

Hey, now, I'm the one who's supposed to tell him that! ;-)

8/22/2005 3:53 PM  
Blogger Tirithien said...

*blushes again* :-o

8/22/2005 11:59 PM  

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