Postcard from the Past

On November 4 of this year, Emily Harrington became the fourth woman to free climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. She scaled the massive 3,000-foot granite face in less than twenty-four hours. Free climbing is a form of rock climbing in which the climber uses climbing equipment such as ropes and other means of climbing protection, but only to protect against injury during falls and not to assist in the ascent.

Just thinking about a 3,000 foot rock face gives me the shivers. If there ever was an activity that was not compatible to me, it would be rock climbing.

I have an aversion to heights. I discovered this when I was in high school and we were covering meteorology. There was a weather box on the roof and the class exercise was to take readings from the instruments.

I remember climbing up to the roof on a solid iron ladder rivetted to the wall, with two great big handlebars looping over the edge of the flatbed roof. I recall having no problem at all going up. Coming down was the issue. Eventually, after all my classmates had descended (I graciously allowed them to go first) I gripped those handlebars, turned around, closed my eyes and slowly, slowly descended down the ladder.

It’s ironic that a few years later my (then) boyfriend took me rock-climbing at Rattlesnake Point on the Niagara Escarpment. I don’t think I actually knew what it was beforehand. I was enticed by a nice day out and the promise of BBQ chicken wings after.

The starting point for rock climbing is at the base of a rock face. Luckily for me, there was an easy trail to walk down. The next stage is climbing up by levering fingers and toes on the bare rock wall. Apparently, this is the ‘fun’ part. I wouldn’t know as I was holding on to a tree trunk most of the time. By then, my aversion to heights had developed into both up and down perspectives.

The good news is that it was a beautiful day out and the chicken wings were very good.

But I never really took to the sport.

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge: POSTCARD FROM THE PAST

Photo taken in Ontario, Canada, circa 1983

13 Comments

  1. You were a brave kid to come down yourself despite being scared. I remember being stuck on top of a monkey gym as a kid back in 1980’s Brisbane. I was at a friend’s place and they had a large backyard with chickens and whatnot. Getting up there had been easy but coming down wasn’t: I was paralysed with fear! I think I had to wait for my parents to come rescue me 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “a nice day out and the promise of BBQ chicken wings after.” That has to be the best line I have read today! My husband lost his nerve for heights around the age of 50. They don’t really bother me, but I can feel a bit dizzy if I look down too much. Funny how it affects some and not all.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I talked to a guy recently who used to do some kind of construction work four storeys up on those steel girders, without harnesses. He said when he was young, he thought he was awesome. Look at us, noone else can do this, he said. Then as he got older, he too lost his nerve for it. On discussing it with him, he agreed the change was to do with a changing awareness – one becomes more conscious of the human race’s tenuous grip on mortality. It must hit my husband’s family around 50.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m fine with heights if I have some sort of barrier (e.g. on a high terrace or balcony) but I’m very nervous around cliff edges etc. Actually, the worst thing for me is watching other people near such edges, so even watching your boyfriend climb would have been tough for me!

    Have you seen Free Solo, where the guy climbs El Capitan with no safety ropes at all? A scary watch!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My son (also a climber) raves about this show but no, I haven’t watched.
      .
      Thinking about it, its not a fear of heights that I gets me, it’s the fear of falling. Like you I dont mind if Im separated by glass and theres no chance of me pitching forward and tumbling thousands of feet to a agonizing and terrible death

      Liked by 3 people

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