Hidden Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park is an 85-foot ice climbing wonderland. It is, in fact, hidden – tucked away from the Wild Basin trail that winds its way through snow-covered evergreens. When you happen upon it, you may not even recognize that a frozen waterfall is before you.
It is only when you are at its base, when you put a hand to the ice, that you realize what a sleeping giant you are about to climb. Somewhere underneath, rushing water has become a slow drip; the thump-thump that lets you know it’s alive.
Despite the ice tools, climbing is all about where and how you place your feet. If you don’t trust your footing, you will hold on to your ice tools for dear life, tensing all of the muscles in your upper body, forearms, and fingers. It’s a surefire way to tire; something I did on my first two tries.
I only made it 10 feet up before I needed to come back down. False starts, I suppose.
“You’re holding on so tightly because you don’t trust your feet. You need to really secure your footing so your upper body can rest and relax,” my guide said. “Focus on the footing, and just hang out.”
I made it to the top on every single climb after that. Slow and steady as she goes. Of course now, I think a lot of where I’ve placed my footing in life. What were the sound steps that I have taken, where I could pause, breathe and balance? What steps were shaky and uncertain, where I held on to people, places, and things to keep myself secure; only to exhaust all of the above? Who has belayed me when I have slipped, lost grip, and fell, pulling tight the rope connecting us and carrying our weight? Who have I belayed?
I am grateful.
Especially for this moment to reset and restore amid total suspension. For finding this footing.