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Adventures in outdoor romance installment #4: Debbie's story!

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read

Last one, finally! Read on for Debbie’s story of love, romance, personal growth and rock climbing. I’ll post a “wrap-up” with a link to a poll for voting on a winner, shortly!

Thanks to all of the entrants (and the folks who’ve sent in notes and stories even after the contest closed). Someday, maybe I’ll do my own post on the topic… but you’ll have to be patient for that one!

Here’s Debbie’s story. Enjoy!

This isn’t a story of one incident of “love on the rocks.” This is a story of how meeting a rock climber has changed my life completely. It started with an e-mail from 1200 miles away in an attempt to connect with someone who could understand the day to day struggles of living with a chronic health condition. I, who had done one day of rappelling in my life and had no idea what the world of rock climbing involved, started talking to a man who had been rock climbing for almost 30 years.

His health issues had impacted his climbing ability significantly for many years recently, but climbing was still a part of his existence. With other interests in common, compatibility and chemistry along for the ride, and after several trips back and forth across the country, I moved to Colorado to share a life with this man. It’s been almost three years and this has been one of the best decisions of my life.

So how does rock climbing fit in to our romance? When I moved here I had just turned 50 and because of my problems with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for almost 20 years, I could barely walk a half a mile on level ground. Plus I had a huge fear of heights and lots of dizziness. Me, rock climb? In my dreams!

I have three college age children and my guy started teaching all of them to climb and I would go along and be the photographer. I did literally climb about 5 feet one time in the first few months I was here and that was the extent of it. I’ve always loved the outdoors and just getting to be in the beautiful locations that are part of rock climbing was exciting and wonderful. I started walking farther and doing very short hikes on gradual inclines. And being outside as much as possible.

After about a year and a half, I started trying very easy climbs, even if I could only go a very short distance. I would have experiences of getting too tired or sore, and too scared and dizzy. But I just kept doing it. Then in the winter I signed up for a gym membership at the local rock club and kept going, two or three times a week.

The next summer I was able to do more outside, both hiking and climbing. It has just continued to improve from there. I still struggle with my health conditions, the fear of heights and dizziness, but the improvement has been dramatic. This April we did a two week road trip and climbed our way through northern New Mexico, Arizona, Joshua Tree, California, Utah and Red Rocks, Nevada. I did my first multi-pitch climb, hanging belay and rappel. I’ve onsighted 5.8’s outside, and 5.10’s in the gym. To those of you who climb hard that may seem trivial, but to me-it’s a miracle.

And my honey just lead a 5.12a outside that had eluded him last year, and he’s getting stronger all the time. His patience and understanding with me has been amazing and my love for him continues to grow. We have many other things going for us, but rock climbing has been a huge part of our life together and been a positive in every way in our relationship. So is there room for romance in climbing-or some might say it should be worded room for climbing in romance? I say YES!!!

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.