Reaching New Heights

July 2, 2012

Cancer survivor, Eve Hersh, recounts her first time climbing at the HERA Climb4LifeSM Colorado

Step by Step by Eve HershEve Hersh Photo 1

I was hugging a rock no more than 15 feet off the ground.  To say I had misgivings is an understatement.  Without the encouragement of the other HERA Climb4Life participants below, I would have scampered down immediately.  My fear of heights didn’t exactly create a remarkable first climbing experience.  There was no way I could climb, Spider-Man style, as high as Pro Climbers (and our teachers for the morning) Heidi Wirtz and Tommy Caldwell had done minutes before.  The fact that I tried at all was my success.

Honestly, I dreaded my first time rock climbing.  I never put more than a few feet between the ground and myself, temps rose in the high 90s the day of the event, and I convinced myself I’d see snakes on the trail.  But I forced myself to shift my trepidation to enthusiasm, and I faced the morning with a positive attitude.  I set my alarm for 6 am, threw my hair into a ponytail, kicked myself for forgetting my morning coffee, and headed for the Boulder Rock Club for breakfast—thankfully, they provided the caffeine.

Eve Hersh Photo 2And surprise, I had fun the moment the day began.  My Colorado Mountain School guide, Russell Hunter, led our small group up to Happy Hour Crag in Boulder Canyon.  Tommy and Heidi gave us a quick intro to climbing and some great instruction, and then we wiggled our way into our harnesses and got on the rocks.

As I clung to the wall and eyed my supporters 15 feet below me, I remembered what adults would always say to me as a child whenever I would get stuck climbing a tree or jumping on top of the monkey bars:  “you got up there, I know you can get yourself down.”  Just like those days spent playing outside, it wasn’t the going up that I found difficult, it was the coming back down that I hated.  So if it wasn’t for the encouragement down below, I probably would have stayed up there until someone came and got me. But it got easier each time I tried.  I tested my limits by making it up, back down, and up again, and built my confidence on the way.

I certainly plan on climbing again.  I may opt for the indoor gym until I gain more confidence in the system, but I am eager to continue.  I enjoyed myself so much that I wasn’t even aware of my hardworking muscles. “I definitely won’t be sore tomorrow,“ I told a fellow HERA supporter, “my arms and legs weren’t working hard enough.”  But sure enough, I had to take a break from my regular workout the next day to give my muscles some rest.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to eliminate those workouts altogether—climbing is much more fun.Eve Hersh Photo 3

NOTE:  Eve was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 13.  She climbed with the Stonewear Designs team at the HERA Climb4Life Colorado, and she writes about her cancer journey on the Stonewear Designs blog.  Click here to read Eve’s Story.




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