So it was almost ten years ago when I first began to enjoy the sport of rock climbing. I had been a fan of Tom Stafford’s climbing for years and it seemed to be getting more intense. I remember my first day on a new route that I was to scale, it was cold and windy and very challenging. I soon began to enjoy the experience of climbing even though it was difficult. I began to get used to the feeling of climbing and soon found that I really enjoyed the feeling of conquering mountains.

Ten years later I was able to scale the tallest peaks in two countries in the Alps and it was amazing. In fact, when I told my wife about my first climb she was surprised to hear that I hadn’t climbed the whole thing. She then asked me what I had planned to do there. I told her that I just wanted to scale the highest peaks in the country and she laughed. “You mean climbing the biggest mountains in Europe?” she asked.

I continued to laugh as I replied,” Yeah, but you’re not just setting foot on any old mountain in Europe. You’re going to the top of La Conte de Pays d’Azur in France and you’re also taking a tram tour down to the French Alps. What a fantastic experience!” My wife just laughed again. “I’m sure they have a pretty good hotel there or something at the national parks,” she said. I knew that she was probably trying to suggest that I should visit the French national parks in France rather than scale the tallest peaks in Europe.

So naturally, I made my way to the capital of Savoy, which is also known as Barcelona by the locals. Once there, I was met by a friendly guide who led me through the cobbled streets that are so common in this part of Spain. We eventually reached the Hotel Interamora where we had coffee and then went into the forest surrounding the resort where my climbing partner and I set out for our first day of climbing. It was really cold and windy for our first day, so I put on my snowshoes and went into the forest to try and build up some strength in my arms and legs.

As I climbed the slopes, I could see the Spanish peaks that are part of my own country. As we neared the top of the Sierra Nevada, I could see the snow-capped peaks that are covered with snow for almost half the year. My guide explained that this is a seasonal park and that climbing here was not allowed during the winter months. This made it very difficult for a novice like myself to scale the peaks and I decided to focus my attention on the more moderate routes that I would be able to follow around the Sierra Nevada instead.

We arrived at the top of the Sierra Nevada and my climbing partner and I prepared to start our ascent up to the summit of Mount Etna, but as we were setting off I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my climbing harness! So, with a little more than ten minutes left until the scheduled time we reached the base of the mountain I took my newfound strength and tackled the challenge of actually belaying the climbing harness that I had brought with me all throughout my camping trip up to the peak. With a successful climb, I arrived safely at the summit of Mount Etna, which is the highest peak in the whole area and is a breath of fresh air for anyone who has ever felt the overwhelming force of mountains.


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