What was the most rewarding part?
The climbing part, because it was totally new to me. I didn’t think that was something I would ever do. Not only physically, but mentally. I don’t have friends that climb, and opportunities to get outside and climb where I live aren’t huge. It’s not really accessible. So being able to climb, at 13,000-14,000 feet nonetheless.
What are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the fact that I raised $2,331. Each person needed to raise a minimum of $1,000. This was my first experience raising money as an adult, really since Girl Scouts. I’m asking people for money and don’t know if they’re going to care. I reached the goal of $1,000 quickly, so I just kept going. It shows how many people are passionate about the outdoors. It’s really humbling. My faith in humanity was elevated. That feeling was awesome and to know it was going to a really good cause. Our 8-person team raised a total of $11,241.
What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
I can do more than I think I can. Hiking up with a super heavy pack made me nervous. I have neck and upper back issues and didn’t know if it was going to be a struggle. I learned that I can do it. Now that I’ve done it, I want to go backpacking more. I want to go backpacking every weekend.
You were in this vulnerable place, stepping outside of your comfort zone with 8 strangers. What was that like?
One of the more unique things about this experience was doing it with 8 strangers. I’d normally do something like this with close friends and family where I know everyone’s pace. This was very new going out into the wilderness with 8 people, not knowing how the group dynamic will be. Everyone was incredibly supportive of each other. There was a moment when I had to be the calm friend to someone climbing above me. She was really nervous, it was all mental. Because I’m generally a pretty calm person, I encouraged her to look at the rock and not look down, that she’s got this. Once she got started, she could do it and she did great.
What advice would you give to someone looking to tackle a physical and mental challenge?
Don’t overthink it. If it’s something you want to do, and you think you could do—just do it.