By Brigg Wolgamott
I was introduced to climbing during a brief summer visit to Montana. Invited out by a random guy named Kurt, I climbed barefoot and completely flailed my way up the cliff face.
It was a difficult task; I had no clue what I was doing. I was fueled by unearned trust in gear and a classically personified grungy climber who instilled me with a false sense of confidence. Yet, the whole experience spurred a phase in my life to learn the necessary skills, train physically, and push mental boundaries out of numerous comfort zones. I learned to love the movement and flow of the sport as much as the technical aspects needed to be smart “at height.” I traveled to various U.S. States, getting to know the types of rock and experiencing a welcoming community around every campfire.
While learning a new hobby was wonderful, and I reached a point in my growth in which it made sense for me to give back what I was originally privileged to receive: an opportunity to try.
In teaching, I found myself indoors instructing classes to enthusiastic climbers ranging in age from 4-82 years old. With peers, I also coached a competitive youth team of over 40 climbers in local competitions here in Vancouver and national events hosted in Bend, Oregon. Eventually, I earned the professional certification to lead small groups to the natural outdoor rock-climbing areas around the Pacific Northwest.
From hobbyist, to coach, to guide, and never leaving the enthusiasm behind, I now enjoy the relaxed role of mentor. By challenging my own perceived limitations and subsequently providing space for others to do the same: the journey, phase, and shared memories will stick with me, and luckily, continue to grow.
As we would tell all students with a rallying cry, “Safety third!”
… and in response to their puzzled looks, “only because it’s also first and second.”