What is Free Climbing?
The sport of rock climbing consists of a lot of different styles and disciplines. There are countless possibilities of adventure beyond what we experience at the Chick Climber meetups. Our meetups mainly involve top rope and single pitch sport climbing. However, there is much more out there to discover. Trad (or traditional), multi pitch and big wall climbing are other disciplines, all with different skills, techniques, and experiences. One thing they all have in common is the term free. Free climbing simply means climbing unassisted.
Yes, you are attached to a rope. However, the rope and protection are there only to catch you if you fall. You are not supposed to grab draws or pull on the rope to get you to the top. If you use fixed devices, such as placed protection, slings and ascenders to assist in progressing up a climb, that is known as aid climbing.
Free climbing takes on a whole new meaning when you add the word solo into the mix. Free solo and deep-water soloing involve climbing without a rope. With solo climbing, there is no protection to catch you if you fall. Fortunately for water soloing, the consequences of a fall mean landing in water. In the truest form of free soloing, there is no protection. It is just the climber and his or her chalk bag. The climb must be perfect. Any mistake, slip or fall can lead to serious injury, or most likely death. I for one like being attached to a rope, fixed protection and anchors that will catch me if I fall.
Sport climbing is the discipline I practice most. In addition to a rope and a bolted anchor at the top, there are also bolts drilled into the rock, showing me the exact path to go. As I make my way towards the anchor, I can clip my quickdraw into the bolt and my rope into the quickdraw, protecting me as I move upward. Just when the climb starts feeling unsafe, there is another bolt ahead of me, waiting for me to clip in my rope.
What about Free Solo?
Most climbers don’t free solo. Most rely on their ropes and protection to catch them. It seems crazy to me that a climber thinks they can be perfect every time. A simple foot slip, rock fall, or sudden storm can cause a person to lose their footing. Any mistake can lead to death. While some, like Alex Honnold seem to defy the odds, the stories of countless other free soloist, who eventually made a mistake and lost their lives, proves otherwise.
Can You Be Perfect All the Time?
Not just in climbing, but with life in general, the fact is none of us are perfect all the time. While we may be a good person, and rarely make a mistake, the fact is mistakes will happen. Nobody gets it right all the time. Total perfection is impossible. Romans 3:23 tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” That is the root of the gospel message. God is perfect, we are not. Roman’s 6:23 explains, “the wages of sin is death.” That basically means that sin separates us from God. The death talked about in Romans points to eternal separation from God.
That’s the bad news. The good news is God has provided you and me a rope, a path and way to reach Him, even when we make a mistake. Jesus Christ is that rope that catches us when we fall. Jesus took our place! 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” That means that Jesus Christ exchanged his life for yours and mine. In Christ, my sins are forgiven. I receive true freedom. In Christ, you and I can be forever united with my Heavenly Father and Creator. Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, there is a promise of eternal life in Heaven.
This truth has been demonstrated to me over and over. What I find interesting is that many people walk though life without their fixed anchors, rope and protection. I have heard over and over how people think that being a good person is enough. Good person compared to whom? By what standard do you measure good. Yours, or Gods? Does doing good deeds without God get you eternal life? What warrants good enough? Ephesians 2;8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
You cannot be good enough to earn your way into Heaven. There is no sin too little that won’t separate you from God. There is no sin too big or bad enough to block you from a chance at redemption. Again, Romans 3:23 tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short.” Everyone needs the Rope. What does that Rope provide all of us? Romans 8:8 answers that question. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” In Him, all our sins are wiped away.
This season, your theme for the summer is, “Back to Basics.” After this past year, many of us are out of shape. I personally have been dealing with my a lung disease diagnosis and two wrist tares that have taken me out of climbing for almost six months. Our world is crazy, our nation seems to be crumbling, and our society seems more lost then ever. Absolute truth, something to hold onto, the lifeline that Jesus Christ provides is missing today. I believe I am not the only one who feels just plain tired.
Personally, I need a new beginning. I need to get back to the basics and start afresh. This summer our team will be focusing on the basics. The basics in climbing technique and skills, as well as the basics of the gospel message.
The basics of the gospel is found John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Over the course of the summer, we will talk about what that means, and how you too can truly climb free and find eternal life in Jesus.