Recently, Colin and I did a trust activity on a sport route down in Owens River Gorge. The warm up wall.  Where we take a few falls, and learn to trust each other and our gear. There are a few things that completely fill my brain with fear. The first being I love my partner so much I would die if anything happened to him, especially while I’m belaying him.  With that being said I desperately watch the rope. The rope comes with a lot of rules. “Don’t step on the rope”, “Don’t let the rope get dirty”, “Keep the rope tight, give the rope some slack, ok that’s too much slack, pull it tight, pull the rope fast, faster, ok TAKE!” Holy Shit… and now we’re both gripped.                                                                                                                                                     The rules about the rope I mentioned, Colin tells me are myths. I should throw those out and focus on this whole slack business. We have some work to do. Another fear about the rope, is it tangling me up while I’m belaying Colin as he falls while leading a pitch. This has never happened, so I’m going to throw that out as well. Spending less time focusing on the rope on the ground, keeping it clean, organized and not stepped on and more on appropriate slack and tightness.                                                                                                                                             My last fear with the rope is it snapping… Yep, just coming undone while doing a giant move and then splat. Its dramatic but with all the importance of the rope I wonder where this one has been. I’m watching the rope as I climb up and its being pulled and stretched and rubbing underneath a flake. This all seems unsure. I look down at Colin while he’s sitting and literally hanging out on the other side end of the rope.  He doesn’t seem worried. I take a few deep breaths, talk myself through my fears and find the best feet possible. I climb to the anchor chains, call out to Colin “DIRT!” sit back and hold my knot. The rope makes a few noises as it stretches. Immediately fear comes rushing back and death is all around us. Finally, Dirt. I’m on the ground. Safe.                                                                                                                           Safe, is the key word here. We’re safe. The rope itself is never the issue.                                  Poor communication, not triple checking yourself and your partner, not trusting your partner and your gear are where problems will occur.  Keep your head on, climb hard, Trust yourself; your partner; and your feet.

Amy Messner

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