Terrifying does not even begin to describe how I felt when I slid off of “Wall Street” and swung in my belt. I hit a rock and swung back to hit another. I held onto my harness with a death grip fully aware that there was absolutely nothing beneath me for thousands of feet except jagged rocks.
“Amy,” my guide shouted down at me. “Stick your foot into that rock and climb. Do not sit in your harness. I cannot keep holding you. You need to climb. Stand up and climb.”
I looked around for a handle, any handle and put my fingers onto the smallest ledge possible. I put my foot onto the smooth surface of the rock and stuck my rear end out to the sky. It was a miracle that my shoes didn’t slip, but I was there on the wall, and no longer dangling.
I could feel my heart beating in my head almost so loudly that I barely heard my guide say, “climb, now climb.”
I looked around for another hand-hold and couldn’t see one. Then I remembered what I had learned as one of the most basic climbing rules: When you think there is nowhere to go, move up just one inch and it will change your entire perspective.
I found another tiny handhold one inch up and grabbed it. I took one tiny, miniscule step up the wall. I looked around and there it was, another hand hold, another step. I inched my way up and my guide cheered and both pushed me onward and pulled me up.
I made it.
My husband grabbed me on the ledge and pulled me in. The adrenaline took over and I sobbed and cussed and then I kept going.
A few hours later, my husband was climbing ahead of me and we were roped in together. I was standing on a tiny ledge with one foot and the other wrapped around the rock and up on a small toe hold. I had one hand in a crevasse and one on a handhold.
He slipped and landed on my foot.
“You are standing on me,” I told him. “You need to climb.”
“I need a break,” he said.
I looked down at the distance rocks hundreds of feet beneath us. “Now is not a good time for a break.”
“This is not good,” I heard our guide say. “I’m not clipped in. “Dan if Amy goes, you go, then I go. Start climbing.”
And he did. We climbed and we climbed and we climbed. I’ve ran a marathon before and it was more exhausting than mile 24. Or 25. Or 26.
Despite the fatigue, the hunger, and the fear we kept going until we reached the top.
We stopped for just a few minutes to take in the view and snap this picture before we headed down.
We are all climbing mountains, aren’t we? Some are bigger than others, sometimes you go down a bit before you go back up. Sometimes you climb alone, sometimes you have a team. Sometimes you are swinging in your harness. Sometimes you are lifting someone up. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. No matter the circumstance, we are all climbing.
I also have to thank my husband, Dan. Thank you for all of the mountains we've climbed together and all of the mountains we'll climb in the future. Happy anniversary.