I’m scared of heights.

Not all kinds of heights, just the kind you can legitimately fall from.

Planes and tall buildings don’t scare me. Yes, technically you can fall from these, but the odds are so slim. The statistics don’t lie, planes are safer than cars; those pilots know what they’re doing. And, I’m perfectly comfortable at the top of the Sears Willis Tower, as long as I’m not outside washing its windows.

But, then there’s rock climbing. When you start scrambling up a wall, you become 100% dependent on your own body to keep itself in its gravity-defying position.

I don’t trust my body. It never got along very well with my mind, making learning stick-shift, diving on the swim team in high school, and learning how to skateboard a mess of frustration and bruised body parts. Combine technical physical activity with heights and I’m running in the other direction.

Rock climbing forces you to keep your cool while performing technical physical feats high off the ground. High enough sometimes, that if your mind or body fails you, you could break bones. Or worse.

That scares me.

The last time I went rock climbing was at an indoor gym in Ann Arbor, about four or five years ago. All I remember was how far away the ground looked from 40 feet up and how my sweaty palms threatened to send me hurtling back down toward it. No matter that I was wearing a harness, my heart was beating like a jackhammer out of my chest.

I’ve wanted to try rock climbing again. Maybe it’s my subconscious wanting to face my fears, maybe not. But when I do get beyond my fear, it’s fun.

Kirk bought a Groupon to VITAL Climbing Gym, located right here in Carlsbad. VITAL was specifically designed for bouldering, a refreshingling simple style of climbing that requires no ropes or harness. Since the walls are less than 20 feet high, the crash pad is plenty enough to keep you from breaking any bones.

I climbed.

I only took the green routes–the easiest paths with the biggest handholds–but never mind that. I made it to the top, and no sweaty palms!

VITAL made me feel at home in its laid-back space. They offer wi-fi, a desk area, couches and a beverage station with an espresso machine. They even have a loft stocked with magazines, books and games.

All that in a climbing gym? I thought it was weird too, until I scaled the wall a few times and felt the burn in my forearms. There was just no way I could climb again without giving my muscles a break.

Kirk and I hung out in the loft. We played a game of chess. (I’m a sore loser.)

Even after our break, I couldn’t make my muscles climb anymore.

Now I know (at least for 20 feet and under), it’s only my forearms holding me back, not my fears. ☼