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Location #3: ITALY

Paige Claassen's third stop on her global rock climbing tour? The Italian Alps! Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11). Paige Claassen's third stop on her global rock climbing tour? The Italian Alps! Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Rock climber Paige Claassen recaps her second stop on the Marmot Lead Now Tour, a global tour to inspire people through rock climbing and raise $120,000 for charity organizations.

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By Paige Claassen

We’re all beginners at some point or another. Whether we’re going to a zumba class for the first time or running our first marathon, initially we feel slightly unsure of ourselves. While in Italy on the third stop of the Marmot Lead Now tour, I found myself far from my comfort zone, standing below an intimidating 2,000-foot tall cliff in the Italian Alps. In order to explain my experience, I need to provide a few technical details about rock climbing...

Typically, I sport climb, which means I use a rope and secure myself to pre-existing pieces of equipment on the wall...so no matter where or how often I fall, I’m completely safe. On this particular day in the Alps, I was about to attempt an entirely different objective. This route was 60 times taller than anything I’d ever climbed before, and there were very few pieces of pre existing equipment on the wall. In some places, the route would require me to place my own “temporary” equipment, a concept with which I had little experience, despite my thirteen years of rock climbing.

Falling was not an option, or at least not a preferable option, on this route. If I fell, my equipment would prevent death, but I would likely face serious injuries. On the bright side, this route was far easier in physical difficulty than the routes I’m accustomed to climbing, so I felt confident in my strength. While from the description this may sound like an unwise method of climbing, “multi pitch” climbing as it is called is actually a very popular approach, as it’s the only way to ascend walls taller than 100 or so feet.

Paige making her way 2,000 feet up to the spire with a multi pitch climbing technique. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11). Paige making her way 2,000 feet up to the spire with a multi pitch climbing technique. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

I set off towards the summit with an experienced partner whom I trusted, and who was willing to mentor me through new strategies. I learned how to move quickly and efficiently, how to place and trust temporary equipment, and how to ignore the pain in my feet from wearing climbing shoes all day long. After about six hours of climbing, my partner and I reached the final stretch of climbing for the day. I felt accomplished in an entirely new way.

I stood on top of the summit’s spire, gazing at the beautiful scenery 2,000 feet below me and took a deep breath of that mountain air. I had overcome my fears, and the reward was great. While I prefer to attempt climbs that challenge my physical limits, this climb presented a mental challenge. At the end of the day, I believe this is why we try new things. Attempting a feat we’ve never tried before stimulates not only our muscles but also our minds, allowing us to grow in strength, in confidence, and in aptitude.

What new challenge do you want to try?

Paige celebrates after reaching her objective at the top of the spire. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11). Paige celebrates after reaching her objective at the top of the spire. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

To get involved and donate online to Paige's cause in Italy, Save the Children, visit http://www.crowdrise.com/LeadnowtourItaly.

Check back next month for a video and update about Location #4. And stay tuned for the video of Paige's time in Italy. FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .

Related: Lead Now Tour Main Page

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