Isaac, would you come into the living room please? We have something to say that you might want to hear”, barks my father. Full of warmth and joy, because of exams being over, I strut into the living room. “It is your mother’s and my decision that you won’t be skiing this upcoming year with the BC Team; not at all in fact”, he says. I’m struck dumb. What did I do? Study for my exams, contact my teachers for extra help and all I get is a punishment. “Pack your bag he says, we’re leaving for Australia in six hours”. While packing, I’m torn, thinking about my next year. Though I am furious with my father, we fly to Australia together. My trip to Australia was necessary, but sad. Seeing my grandmother with dementia and visiting an aunt with pancreatic cancer, maybe for the last time, were by no means highlights of the trip. The voyage was over before I knew it and I came home to a pair of rock climbing shoes and an acceptance letter from NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) Rock Climbing course in Wyoming. I had never been rock climbing but sensed that my parents wanted my mind to be taken off ski racing.  I scurried around to get the rest of my gear for the course and flew to Lander, Wyoming, alone, to meet my new family for the next three weeks.


 “GOT ME!” I scream, seven hundred feet above the ground. My guide, Josef, replies, “Just breathe; you can climb this”. It requires a lot of trust and confidence to be comfortable on a rope attached to a sheer face of rock by a tiny piece of metal, which someone else has set up for you. Finally, I reache the top of the fifth leg of my multiple pitch climb and am tensely resting up against the rock, looking down eight hundred feet. Before I can catch my breath, I’m climbing up the 5.10a crack. “Foot work, “ I repeatedly tell myself under my breath. “Foot work”. I test a rock. It seems solid to me, so I go for it. Loose. No time to be scared. Just words. “OHHHH SSHHIIITT!” I yell. I’m now dangling at nine hundred feet; my mind buzzing and my heart racing.

At this moment, I stop. Smell, the crisp mountain air; feel the sharp crack in the rock; see the whole Rocky Mountain Range; taste chapped lips and left over oatmeal; hear Josef saying “ Are you going to sit there all day?” I reflect on my emotions as the rock broke away from me. Would I be happy with dying now? Or would I be embarrassed to not have done more with myself? Those emotions stew and finally I climb again. Smearing my feet as holds, I slowly creep up the jagged crack. Determination. Vision of the top.

Relieved, I complete my ascent and my guide gives me a pat on the back. “Sawa Sawa”, he says which means well done in Finnish. That night, I write in my diary. I write about my learning experience, the trust I built and the senses that were so highly affected by my fall. Not only did I conquer my fear of heights, but learnt how to rely on my own resources. I learnt the power within me. In early June, I was dreading the summer that approached me, with so many confrontations and issues. My grandmother and aunt, so close to death and I too looked at it straight in it’s eyes. I overcame an obstacle that I have confidence both my aunt and grandmother will overcome. For they too will find the power within.  "When the slab cut loose, my mind calculated trajectories, analyzed terrain, and fed me its conclusions: no way out, you are going to die. This conclusion seemed to free me to experience the fall. Tumbling, catching air, then the loudest sound I've ever heard”, said by famous climber, Carl Tobin.