BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)–I’ve always heard that you can’t run from what you’re afraid of. So maybe that’s why I was at the Inside Out Climbing Gym at the Chocolate Moose Café in Beckley.
I usually come in for a Mothman latte. But, for our Never Have I Ever series, I was there to do something I’d never done – to, literally, climb the walls.
I was scared when I arrived at the café. I was sure I would not be able to climb even a few feet. Being in a high space makes me feel dizzy, and I started to panic.
Natalie Adams, the climbing instructor, said she would help me conquer my fear of heights.
Once the waiver was signed, Natalie helped me into a harness and explained how I would get down from the wall – if I managed to make it off the ground. She said I would use a cable that was attached to my harness. When I let go of the wall, she explained, the cable would lower me back to the floor.
We did a practice climb.
With encouragement from Natalie and 59News Photojournalist DJ McNamee, I took the first step up the wall. I made it around 12 feet when I looked down, I immediately felt dizzy. I got in a panic and went back to the floor. On the way down, I forgot to face the wall and kick out with my legs. So I ended up bumping my head—and other parts!
However, it was exhilarating. I felt shaky and had a rush of adrenaline, so, I went back. This time, I didn’t look down at the floor. I concentrated on where to place my hands and feet.
Climbing is harder than it looks. I discovered that it requires a large amount of upper body strength. I had to trust the equipment, my team and my own judgment.
I’d like to say I got to ring the bell that’s at the top of this 35-foot wall. When I looked at footage of how far I’d already climbed, it seemed as if I should’ve been able to do it. However, I was tired, and my manicure and the climbing wall weren’t playing on the same team.
When my feet hit the ground, I felt the same adrenaline rush and a sense of accomplishment. I faced a fear, and it felt great.
Natalie made me feel better about not ringing the bell.
“Beginners come in here, they don’t even want to get five feet on the wall. They’re terrified. They don’t trust us, which makes sense,” she said. “But Jessica did so well for her first time. She was two feet away from the bell, which was very impressive.”
I have taken the climbing wall at the Inside Out Gym off of the list of things I’ve never tried. I did it — and I may go back and climb that last two feet!