Tuesday, July 06, 2010


One of the reasons I really enjoy rock climbing is because so much of what you learn on the rock carries over into our daily activities. Maybe this is just me but hear me out for a little bit.
A few weeks ago I guided a small group of boys form our church on a rock climbing trip. We went to a place that I know better than any other climbing area, Mount Yonah near Cleveland Georgia. After spending half the day climbing some relatively easy stuff a few of the guys wanted to do something harder. So I took Aaron and another boy, Alex, up to help me set up a few top ropes on the harder stuff. They had both shown considerable interest in learning how to safely set up the anchors. In order to get to the anchors for these routes we had to rappel off of the top of the rock which was over 200 feet tall and down to a ledge in the middle of the rock. I let Aaron rappel down to the ledge first since he had a little more experience than Alex. Alex would go next and I would come down to the ledge last. That way I could inspect everybody’s set-up before they rappelled.
So Aaron gets his rappel set and heads down to the ledge with no problem. That’s when all the drama started. You see the ledge was home to hundreds of biting ants. They were big red things with black abdomens. No sooner than Aaron got on the ledge and they were attacking his legs. It also seemed that the death of their sisters brought out even more worker ants to join in the attack. As bad as the ants were Aaron really had no choice but to stay on the ledge until Alex and I could get down to him, bring down the ropes and rappel the rest of the way to the ground.
So we did just that. Alex, knowing full well what he was getting into, rappelled down to the ledge, safely clipped into the anchors and proceeded to help Aaron slap off the ants until I could get down. I followed as quickly as I safely could and set up the ropes to get us off the rock. The whole process took about half an hour and we all had quite a few ant bites when the event was over.
I was very proud of Aaron and Alex for keeping their cool. It was a very stressful place to be. My biggest concern was that in spite of the ants they would abandon the relative safety of the ledge, unclip from the anchors and try to go over to another ledge without as many ants. They both realized that the ants were annoying but they weren’t deadly. Yet unclipping from the anchors to get away from them could be deadly. It’s in exactly these types of situations that it is even my important to do things correctly. Both the boys realized this and did everything they could to help me set up the anchors as fast a possible yet also as safely as possible.
As their guide for the trip I regret that they had to learn this lesson in such a stressful way but I’m glad that they learned that some things in life just aren’t worth the gamble. Many times in life what may seem like the quick and easy way to solve a problem may in fact be risking a whole lot more than if you patiently solved it the correct way.