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Life Lessons from a Rock Climber

Have you ever looked up at a big cliff with rock climbers dangling from what looks like threads and thought, “Wow, it really seems like they have life all figured out?” You most likely have not thought that. While I certainly don’t have everything figured out, I have learned a lot of lessons during my time as a rock climber.

The art of rock climbing is very intense and can often be dangerous, requiring several measures of safety. Despite its danger, rocking climbing is an outdoor activity enjoyed by many across cultures and continents.               Photo by Luke Little

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I vividly remember a day near the end of my first semester of college where I was sitting at my desk in my composition class. 

I may have been daydreaming just a little, or maybe a lot. 

Out of the blue I had this thought, I want to climb a mountain. 

Not just any mountain, but I wanted to summit the Grand Teton.

At around 14,000 feet, this mountain towers over the rest of the Grand Teton mountain range with an overwhelming number of challenges from glacier fields to technical climbing with 2,000 feet of exposure. 

What is it that draws me to this mountain? I still could not tell you.

How and why is this something that I would put myself through? No idea. 

But to my mind, who cares? It’s awesome.

What really mattered to me was this question: Where on earth do I start?

First, I needed some climbing gear and some experience with rock climbing, so that began my adventures with rock climbing. 

I messaged my friend Welsey Smith to see if he was down, and with a yes from him I bought some gear, watched a few YouTube videos and took to the cliffs. 

It can’t be that hard, right? 

Some would say this was a horrible idea, and I would have to agree with them, but you have the advantage of knowing that I am still alive since you are reading this right now. 

I have definitely taken some risks, made some mistakes, and barely avoided some situations that could have been pretty terrible, but I can also say that I have learned some really great lessons.

Lesson 1: As a broke college student, buying rock climbing equipment is not the smartest financial decision you can make. 

I joke around about this, but in reality the memories I have made with people have been worth every cent. 

Sometimes the move that doesn’t make a lot of sense in other people’s eyes can lead to something that is way more worthwhile.

Lesson 2: Never! … no … ALWAYS wear your helmet. 

Rocking climbing is an activity that requires plenty of skill and knowledge to do well and safely.   Photo by Luke Little

Even if you aren’t climbing, you never know what will come flying at you, like rocks, carabiners, phones, bigger rocks, people, etc. 

We need to protect our heads because what gets to our head can affect the entire body. 

Isn’t that a life lesson?

It’s so important to protect what is going into your head because that really does affect how you think, feel and behave. 

Lesson 3: You need a climbing buddy, preferably one you trust with your life.

In rock climbing, the only thing keeping you from falling to the ground is the person who is belaying you using the rock climbing equipment. 

If they don’t know what they are doing or aren’t paying attention, your life is at risk. 

In life it is so important to have friends who are there for you to catch you when you fall. 

These are the people who will be there for you in the good times and the bad.

Lesson 4: You can trust the equipment. 

One of the first things people ask when they first start climbing is, “Are you sure this is going to hold me?” 

When the equipment is used properly, it can handle at least 2,000 pounds of force. 

The Bible actually is comparable to climbing equipment. 

When used properly, there is a lot of security to be found in scripture. 

I have seen so many times in life where I failed and fell short, but the weight of my failure falls drastically short of the measure of God’s steadfast love and forgiveness toward me. 

Psalm 139 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” 

It is so good to know that God is with me in the good; He is with me in the bad; and He is with me when all I want to do is run.

But not only is He with me, He is holding onto me and He won’t let go.  

This is the kind of love that changes a life. 

Lesson 5: When going on a day-long climbing trip, always bring toilet paper. 

I think this lesson speaks for itself. 

All jokes aside, I have learned so much through rock climbing.

While this may not be for everyone, I would highly recommend finding ways to engage your inner adventurer and take some risks, pushing you toward a life that is full of mistakes but also lessons. 

Bob Goff, New York Times bestselling author of the books, “Love Does,” “Everybody Always” and “Dream Big,” says to “trade what is easily available for what is actually worthwhile.” 

The question for you to answer is: What is holding you back from reaching what is actually worthwhile?

MBU students participate in several outdoor activities sponsored by the club MBU Outdoors. MBU Timeline writer Patrick Griffey, the president of MBU Outdoors, is pictured here in the middle, with Samson Wilkins on the left and Alexander Menz on the right.        Photo courtesy of MBU Outdoors

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Patrick Griffey

Patrick Griffey

Patrick Griffey is an editor and journalist for MBU Timeline. He is pursuing a degree in communications studies with a minor in missions. Griffey is a residence assistant on campus, bass player for the acoustic group, Abide, and serves as the president of MBU Outdoors. He loves to spend time with friends and seek adventure outside. Griffey hopes to do mission work in Haiti long term after he graduates.

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