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No Fall Zone

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Last week I climbed Wetterhorn Peak, a 14,021’ peak in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. While most of the hike is a relatively mellow trail, the final 1/2 mile or so turns into a class 3 rock scramble (class 3 just means you’ll need to use your hands to climb, and you’ll likely encounter some exposure.)

While most of the scramble is well protected, the final climb up the gully to reach the peak is what most would consider a “no fall zone”. To put it delicately, you REALLY wouldn’t want to fall there.

Mom and Dad, I hope you’re not reading this.

Before starting up the gully, my hiking partner, Jen, and I stopped to assess the terrain. We made sure we were clear on the route, had a plan to avoid rockfall and were both feeling comfortable to proceed.

With my full attention on my hand and foot placement, I set aside my fear and started climbing. We summited, celebrated, and followed the same protocol on the descent.

Reflecting back on my experience in that gully, I can’t help but notice how often fear holds us back or at least gives us pause in our off-trail lives.

Rejection, vulnerability, disappointment and failure are uncomfortable for sure, but in our modern world, they don’t result in death or even injury. Very rarely do we encounter “No Fall Zones” in our day to day lives. Most decisions can be reversed or at least course-corrected.

The best parts of my life have come when I feel afraid and do it anyway. Moving across the country, taking the trip of a lifetime, changing careers, investing time and money in myself, or even showing up to events my introverted self is uncomfortable at, have given me pause but have ultimately resulted in the most fun, exciting, beautiful life I could imagine.

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