When I lived in California, I loved being in the mountains. Everything about them inspired and intrigued me. Each moment of the day I dreamed of being in higher elevations exploring the wonders of God’s creation.
As I grew to know more of these mountains, I also noticed an availability of a sport I always wanted to be involved in: climbing. I had done some mountaineering, but I’m talking about climbing with a rope and harness and rock shoes up a steep face with only a belayer to keep you from hitting the ground. This excited me through and through because, growing up in Louisiana, there was no place to go for an aspiring climber to learn, so I just didn’t.
As I learned the basics of climbing – gear, knots, holds, technique – I also learned some of the jargon of climbers in the area – dude, take, slack, on belay, falling, etc…
One term often used in my climbing circles stuck with me… “The Sharp End”
So what is it? The sharp end is the end of the rope to which the climber is tied-in. In sport and traditional climbing, a climber would climb from the ground up, placing gear or quickdraws as he/she went along, so this sharp end of the rope was the serious end.
I didn’t realize how serious this was until I was two-thirds the way up a climb in the Sierras. It was my first lead, and it was 5.8. I wasn’t too scared on the slabby sections, but I had to hit a vertical wall a good ten feet above the last bolt. It wasn’t the easiest section of the climb, and I had a good 20 feet of climbing left. When on lead, if you fall, you don’t fall back to the last bolt. You fall the distance to the last bolt then that distance some more. So, if I had fallen right before I clipped the chains, it could have been a 60 foot fall. I was scared.
This blog is about the business end of life. We all are tied to the sharp end, and we all must climb this mountain called “life”.
Some people choose to stay on the ground.
Some people climb but continually look down.
Some people climb and don’t work in partnership with their belayer.
Some people climb with skill that can only be a gift.
Some people move through various stages of each of these as they travel through life.
Which one am I? You’ll see in my future posts.