Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.
But Rapunzel didn’t.
Rather, Rapunzel rappelled.
She unfastened her braided hair and anchored it around a hook in the window above. Rapunzel wove herself a harness. It was snug and strong. She used her strength, her technique and her knowledge to rappel out of the tower’s solitary window to the ground. Rapunzel’s life had changed and would never be the same.
The moral, girls: learn to climb.
Climbing can help young girls grow into strong women. This column is directed at girls, but also applies to boys, parents and all ages.
The approach, the beta, the crux, the send, the challenge? Striving to reach that next hold, as well as pushing yourself mentally and physically to the point of exhaustion and frustration and for what? To get dirty, to earn the knots in your back and to learn invaluable lessons taught when staring into the eyes of a rock face.
Young girls can learn strength, technique, knowledge and trust through climbing.
Strength is valued and revered. In today’s culture being strong is innately taught to boys. Strapping young lads learn the importance of strength by innocently helping carry boxes up from the basement.
It is important to remember that strength is not always brute.
Climbing reinforces the idea that strength is more than how much you can bench press. It teaches girls to make mental strength a daily practice. Mental strength is pushing and striving to overcome obstacles. However, being strong doesn’t mean that there is an absence of fear; before clipping a bolt and your arms are shaking, are you scared? Of course, but you make the clip.
Girls learn to overcome obstacles in the face of fear.
However, strength is not the only thing needed to reach the top.
Technique is more valuable than strength. Young girls learn the skills and tools, such as using high feet or straight arms and moving hips into the wall, that will help them become stronger climbers. The process of approaching the climb and then navigating the climb teaches young girls that there is no right way to accomplish things. The daring way to climb to the top of a route or problem is to be creative, to use technique and to solve the puzzle.
Knowledge is gained through repetition in climbing. Learning about the factors that are in your immediate control and the factors that are not can lessen the risks of injuries while climbing. Dangerous, uncontrollable factors include rock fall or weather. Controllable factors entail placing safe protection, checking knots, being aware and understanding mechanics of climbing. Learning to wear your helmet and check your knot teaches to never rely solely on one individuals’ information or knowledge. Study up.
Do not let other’s opinions be your own just because. Young girls learn to explain their opinions by being confident in what they have learned. Girls, be passionate and be deliberate, as well as able to communicate ideas clearly and effectively.
Trust your feet. Having sturdy feet enables the rest of your body to reach and grasp the next hold. Your feet matter, because your feet are what ground you. It is the base for physical posture. Young girls should learn good posture and to stand up straight, tall and proud. Stand up for what you believe in and be confident. The importance of being present, standing up and trusting yourself is a lesson taught well by climbing.
Rock climbing is a mental and physical challenge, because it confronts the body in the same way it challenges the mind. It is a puzzle. Just an intimidatingly high puzzle with limited things to hold on to sometimes. It is a challenge and it pays off.
By definition, the goal of climbing is to get to the top without falling. But we fall. Everyone falls and that does not make us damsels in distress.
She used her strength, her technique and her knowledge to rappel out of the tower’s solitary window to the ground.
Rapunzel climbed safely because she had a clear understanding of the risks. She trusted her feet and used her strength. She learned to treat the climb with respect.
She was a strong climber, as well as a strong woman.
“I have a confidence about my life that comes from standing tall on my own two feet.” –Jane Fonda