A Novice Climber Faces Fears on WV’s Through Ferrata


A Novice Climber Faces Fears on West Virginia’s Through Ferrata

The solar beat down on me, wind whipping previous as I moved from rung to rung, tethered to the cliff face solely by the clips I moved separately. I had by no means climbed increased than the 20-foot wall at my native health club—but right here I used to be, 300 ft above the bottom in West Virginia, looking throughout miles of huge mountains and jagged cliffs. 

Again in March, I climbed the NRocks Through Ferrata in West Virginia with my school’s outing membership. Through ferratas are protected routes, which depend on rungs and cable programs with the intention to simplify the climbing expertise. 

Photograph by Jenny Hellwig

Up to now I’ve adopted a “you’ll be able to by no means fail if you happen to by no means attempt” philosophy. I felt that if I by no means climbed a collection of cliffs that shoot a number of hundred ft into the sky, I’d have a surefire assure that I wouldn’t fall to my demise. 

However after a very miserable winter semester, I used to be trying to do one thing thrilling to get out of a seasonal rut. 

Through ferratas don’t require earlier climbing expertise, so when it comes to talent stage, I knew that I might do it. I used to be drenched in sweat as we hiked as much as the primary wall on an abnormally scorching day in March. There, I used to be instantly intimidated by the sheer vertical rock face. One after one other, the rungs climbed straight up in the direction of the sky. As an overthinker, the kind of one that kills time in line for curler coasters by intensely googling “chance of falling off of theme park rides,” I naturally tarted visualizing all the issues that would go fallacious—a missed step, an unintended unclip, a collision with one other climber. 

The primary couple of rungs, though just a few ft off the bottom, had been the toughest. I immediately regretted not eradicating my acrylics, as a result of making an attempt to climb the face of the rocks with talon-like nails is—shocker—fairly troublesome. I used to be shaky, going at a gradual tempo. I hugged the rocks for pricey life, however with regular development accomplished that first wall. 

As we stood on the high, our guides reminded us that we might take the primary of two exits if we felt we couldn’t full the course. Stubbornly, although, I used to be decided to complete. I had already discovered a way of accomplishment from the climb thus far, even solely 40 ft off the bottom. I wasn’t going to again down. 

After I handed the exit, the remainder of the climb felt smoother, aside from the suspension bridge. As I watched it bounce and shake as every particular person walked throughout, I made a decision that there was no method I might go on that bridge with anybody else on it on the similar time. Wanting right down to see the terrifying drop between every wood beam, I couldn’t get off it quickly sufficient, though it did present some stunning images.

Ultimately, we made it to the toughest a part of the journey—the headwall. The 100-foot vertical climb is non-obligatory, however my buddies who had beforehand executed the journey insisted it was a necessity. 

I understood why as soon as I obtained to the highest.  It was some of the scary issues I’ve skilled to look right down to see how far up we had been. However on the threat of sounding cliche, the expertise of being each utterly awe-struck and terrified on the similar time felt like a refreshing reminder of what it means to really feel alive. 

Doing this climb meant taking one step within the route of changing into somebody who doesn’t restrict herself by getting caught in a tangle of infinite what-could-go-wrongs. Within the months to observe, I’ve discovered it simpler to step additional exterior my consolation zone. Final month I jumped 30 ft off a footbridge—after which did it once more on two different events. I additionally began placing myself in social conditions that used to look intimidating. I’ve pushed throughout Virginia this summer time, exploring nature by myself, as an alternative of needing to go along with household or buddies. 

Photograph by Jenny Hellwig

What I particularly loved about climbing the through ferrata is how I used to be in command of the method. It was as much as me to navigate the course safely, to persistently keep clipped in, to tug myself up rigorously, and to position my legs and arms precisely the place they wanted to go. I needed to totally belief my very own instincts. And although I typically doubt my talents, I didn’t let myself down. I ultimately obtained so into the movement of the climb that I used to be now not fascinated with all of the issues that would go fallacious. I simply stored fascinated with my subsequent transfer—and I’ve realized that’s all I actually must be doing. 

Journey Recap: Through Ferrata at NROCKS

Journey Time: 3.5-5 hours

Elevation Achieve: 1,085 ft 

Location: Circleville, W.Va. 

Cowl photograph by Jenny Hellwig



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