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Betties at the Mazamas Learning Rock Climbing

“TAKE!” A girl squeaks, grasping the rock wall with all her might.

“You’ve got this Evelyn!” The woman shouts up, holding tightly onto the belay rope.

“No I don’t, no I don’t! I’m scared!” Evelyn shouts down, clinging to the wall, her eyes squeezed shut. It’s her very first time climbing a rock wall.

“Just three more moves and you’ll be at the top, you’re doing so great!” The belayer calls up.

“You’ve got this Evelyn! We believe in you!” The girls taking a break from climbing shout from below, huge smiles on their faces.

“I do!?” Calls Evelyn, looking down to the crowd, “Oh no! I shouldn’t have looked down!” She exclaims.

“Don’t look down, just look up!”

“Just look up,” she mumbles under her breath, she turns her gaze to the not-too distant ledge, a look of determination replacing her expression of fear. She takes a deep breath and then exclaims, “Climbing!”

“Climb on!” The belayer beams.

In three swift moves Evelyn has climbed up over the ledge and sits there, panting, “Oh hey Mr. Troll!” She smiles at the troll who marks the top of the rock wall, an inside joke amongst the climbers at Mazamas. She then directs her gaze downwards. “Guys… How… How do I get down!?” She panics for a moment, clinging tightly to the rope.

“Don’t worry Evelyn, I got you,” The woman belaying her smiles.

“You do!? Are you sure? It’s so high up! What if I fall?”

“You won’t, I have you. You can climb off the edge if that makes you feel more comfortable and start walking down.”

Evelyn takes a few deep breaths and then swings her foot over the edge, catching it on a rock wall hold, she then pushes herself down so that her hands find another hold before she works up the courage to take her hands off the wall, lean back, and then walk down.

As soon as Evelyn’s feet his the ground, her friend Wren, who has been watching her the entire time runs towards her and wraps her up in one of the tightest hugs I have ever witnessed.

“You did it, I’m so proud of you,” Wren says, taking a moment before letting her go. Evelyn is shaking from the adrenaline, “Take a few breaths,” Wren says, patting her shoulder, “Feel proud of yourself, you just did that, you’re awesome.”

I smile and capture a couple pictures before turning to the next girl scrambling up a wall, proud to have witnessed another magical Betties moment.

Note: Evelyn and Wren are real girls and this is a real moment that happened during our Mazamas trip their names have been changed in this story.

By Hannah Nolan, Program Coordinator and After-School Instructor for Betties360

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