Believe in Yourself

A few weekends ago I took part in the Arc`teryx Chamonix experience. I signed up for Introduction to Glacier safety and hiking on day one. I did not realize at the time that I was going to have to climb down a succession of rather long ladders (250m worth to be exact) that are bolted to a shear rock face.

You must also move from one ladder to the next on a rocky lip that is not as wide as a boot, or barely. There are rails to clip to as you move along to the next ladder. Going down I seemed quite fine, even though being a past sufferer of vertigo. I did belay the first two ladders but then felt fine and went the rest of way ropeless. On our return, after a day on the glacier and trying out various techniques for scaling ice walls above a glacial river, we had to ascend these ladders. This is when my mind went a little wobbly.

It was around 3pm, we had started out in Chamonix at 7:45am and there were storms surrounding the valley, with audible thunder rolling around. The thought of scaling these ladders – that are metal – in a thunder storm was just a little daunting. I had promised my son I would not do anything that would put my life in any danger

For some reason I was the last one to go up the ladders, the rest of the group was well ahead of me. I had stopped to remove some clothing and was having some trouble with my one boot lace (it kept coming out of a hook). I was fine on the first in the series of long ladders. However on the last two, and these were long, I started thinking, “ugh, I should clip in now and just sit here. What am I doing on this ladder, I am afraid of heights!! and I don`t really like the thought of being up so high”. I had to really revector my self talk in a big way. I started by counting the rungs. I would count to 10 and then start over, I kept telling myself, “only 10 more “, where in reality I had 50+ more. I looked up and could see our guide about 30 rungs above me.

I then started thinking about how people could die on this thing as the thunder rolled around above me. I truly had to block this, say no to my inner voice and have my outer voice (yes I was now talking out loud) take over. “You are fine, 10 more steps, count them girlfriend, you were made to do this, you are strong, this is why you go to boot camp! Go girl”.

I would get to the top of ladder and then have to strategically place a foot on a very narrow piece of rock, letting go completely as I leaned into the rock face before taking hold of the metal hand rail. My rope and carbiner device that was hooked to my harness was not long enough to clip in early… Once clipped I could catch my breath and then walk along this less than boot width ridge to the next ladder.

When I arrived at the top I was relieve and exhilerated. I had overcome my moments of doubt and changed my self talk and I was back on a series of rock steps wider than the soles of my boots!

Adventures like this one really bring me into focus. They also help me shift gears from my daily routine and bring my sense of inner peace to new heights. I keep these emotions and body sensations with me for days. Getting out of my comfort zone helps me handle life`s ups and downs even keeled.

I wish for you to find something that works for you in this same way. Be it learning a new skill with you hands, entering a pie making competition when you don`t usually cook, running a 5km road race, canoeing in the wind, singing in front of a group, or maybe even climbing ladders above a glacier.

Balance on my friends……

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