Archive for the ‘rock climbing’ Tag

Daring Courage   3 comments

We are a family of rock-climbers. Back before we had kids, I used to join Brad in bouldering and an occasional free climb. After we had kids, I mostly stuck to bouldering because kids need at least one parent to raise them and Brad wasn’t volunteering to stay on the ground. Climbing is hard on your hands and I make my living with the nimbleness of my fingers, so walls had never really been my thing anyway.

Our daughter did her first free solo when she was about 14. She wasn’t actually supposed to make that particular climb of the face at Angel Creek Rocks that day. She didn’t have climbing shoes, a harness or ropes. Those were in her dad’s back pack. That, by the way, is the difference between free climbing (which is done with ropes in case you miss a hand hold) and solo free climbing, which is done with climbing shoes and a chalk bag.

Brad and I were shepherding the boys (Kyle and a friend would have been about 8) up to the top of the tors by a safe-ish route when we heard a shout from Ginny, Bri’s friend. We followed her voice until we came to the drop off about halfway up the wall. I leaned out and looked up to see Ginny halfway up, her arms shaking, her fingers reaching for and just missing a two-finger hold. I looked up farther and stopped breathing.

Bri was much higher than Ginny. Barefoot with no chalk or helmet and no safety gear, she was monkeying her way up the face. Her longer arms and legs meant she should reach holds that Ginny couldn’t and she was almost to the top.

Brad shouted up to Ginny and ascertained that she was stuck. I ran up the hiking trail to the crest and dropped a rope. By that time, Brad had free soloed up to Ginny. After tying her off, he escorted her back down the wall while I dealt with Bri.

Did I mention she’s a gypsy bluegrass musician now. She’s climbed all over the country. She’s not good enough to make the news, but I sometimes wonder when we’ll get a call that she’s missed a handhold. Fortunately, she’s realized that the thick calluses of a full-time climber interferes with playing the guitar and mandolin, so she’s not trying to high climbs as much. She still scares me.

Our son is now into climbing, but he recognizes that safety equipment is good … for now. The day will come when he moves from wanting to be a Stone Master to becoming a Stone Monkey. The Masters used ropes as a safety device. The Monkeys … not so much. We watched Valley Uprising the other night and I watched the glint in his eyes. As a parent, sometimes you have to be courageous because you can’t stop them from risking their lives.

And, I “get” it. There is something about climbing a wall. When you get to the top and look out across the valley — wow. Climbers, whether Christians or atheists, speak of a spiritual experience that comes from it. I’m sure it has something to do with overcoming terror to master the rock.

I have a great respect for falling. So does Brad. Kyle still does, but it may be fading (I’m praying he misses a handhold on ropes someday soon). Bri never did. Courage operates in many ways and one of those ways is in the willingness to pit your body against nature and defy gravity. There’s a whole subculture of rock climbers who don’t just see pretty mountains, but jungle gyms for their personal enjoyment. They get something from it, something visceral, a spiritual experience. You can view it as foolhardy daring-do or you can view it as an extreme sport whose practitioners know what they risk and are willing to risk it.

Trusting What You Have Experienced   Leave a comment

Rock climbing can be dangerous. Which is why rock climbers use ropes, cams and other equipment to keep themselves from dying.

The climber in this photo is doing something very risky. If any of his equipment fails, he may end up having a really bad day.

I don’t have his courage. I have done some rock climbing where the equipment was a safety measure that was not wholly needed, but the pictured climber is wholly trusting in the equipment and I am just not that brave.

But, I know people who would think the rock climbing I do is too dangerous. They don’t trust themselves, they don’t trust the rock, they fear heights … there’s plenty of reasons not to go vertical.

Martin Luther would have understood the rock climber’s faith. He faced persecution and death, but he trusted God to always be there at the end of his rope, confident that “a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”

I believe in God because I’ve seen strong evidence for Him in the world and I’ve tested that evidence until I am confident that it holds up. I believe that Jesus Christ is God because I have a relationship with Him that is day-to-day. Because of that experience, I have faith. You may not understand why I am willing to risk your derision for what you consider to be a myth, but then many of citified commuter would think that rock climber is crazy. The climber has the experience with the equipment and rock to face the cliff with confidence, radically assured that he can defy gravity. I am confident that God exists and that He will keep His promises (Philippians 1:6; Galatians 5:10, II Peter 1:12).

I’d be willing to bet that if you make that sort of extreme rock climbing illegal (for the protection of the climbers, of course), the climber would still rock climb in the way depicted because he loves to do it, he knows it’s worthwhile, and he trusts himself and the equipment even if you do not.

In a similar way, trying to talk me out of believing in God and trusting Jesus for my salvation is just words into the wind, because faith is trusting what you almost know to be true and finding out that you were right.

It’s A Crime to Drive in the Snow?   Leave a comment

Alaska has winter weather that is guaranteed to test your resolve about living in Alaska. A week ago, we were driving in NEGATIVE 40 degree weather and our car overheated because the onboard computer was confused. Danged on-board computers!

A couple of weeks before, we were hit with a blizzard.Some places saw 3-4 feet of snow in a 24-hour period.  I work for Alaska Department of Transportation. We sent out a winter weather advisory and closed a couple of mountain passes that we simply couldn’t get the plows through, but local traffic still flowed. The advisory suggested not driving unless you had no choice. The next day, it warmed up and the roads got slippery enough that they canceled school, but people still went to work and traffic still flowed.

My sister-in-law lives in New Hampshire, where my husband grew up. The last few days have been challenging for New Englanders. We watched it on the news. Massachusetts banned drivers from driving, threatening them with hefty fines and up to one year in prison.

Our 14-year-old is watching this on the news and he turns to me and says “That doesn’t look any worse than today’s snow and I walked to school in that.” This got us listening to the broadcast and we all came away with this idea.

If government can make it a crime for you to drive your own personal vehicle during a weather event, what else can government do? Yes, it might be dangerous. I do a lot of dangerous things. Obviously just driving in Alaska can be dangerous. We rock climb. If I can find it, I’ll post a photograph of our daughter when she was about 14 years old free-climbing a sheer cliff without gear. We DID NOT authorize her to do that, but she lived. She’s now 20 and off on adventures that we don’t necessarily want her to do, but you know what … she’ll be fine. If we as parents can learn to allow our children the freedom to scare the crap out of us, why is it that our government feels that it’s fine to prevent sane adults from exercising their freedom of choice to do dangerous things?

It’s tyranny when government can say it will fine and jail you for doing an otherwise legal activity because it has deemed it dangerous at the moment.

Wake up, people! The state shouldn’t control your lives and they can only do it if you let them. Don’t let them! They can’t arrest us all.

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