News Detective: Emily Goes Rock Climbing

Emily Sohn, SNK’s intrepid reporter, goes rock climbing.

When I heard about gecko tape, my first thought was: rock climbing. Of course, climbing is something I spend a lot of time thinking about anyway. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Emily climbs a wall at the gym.
Emily climbs a wall at the gym.
Gabe Keller

Several times a week, all year long, I go to the climbing gym in St. Paul, Minn., about 20 minutes from where I live. When the weather’s good, my friends and I head outside for the nearest mountains, cliffs, or even stone walls. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday. We’ll skip out early when no one’s watching. On weekends, we get up at sunrise, and we often climb until it’s too dark to see.

If I plan to climb up very far off the ground, I usually tie one end of a rope onto a harness that I wear around my waist. Another person, called the belayer, puts the other end of the rope through a piece of equipment attached to his or her harness. If I fall, the rope catches me, and I will usually swing only a little bit.

With gecko tape, though, maybe I wouldn’t need a rope or a belayer at all. I could run up rock walls. I could scurry across overhanging ledges. I could be the best climber in the world! I daydreamed about this for quite a while.

Then, I started having second thoughts. What I love most about climbing is the challenge of it. I enjoy working hard to find the perfect marriage of strength, balance, focus, courage, and flexibility. Each climb is like a puzzle. There are as many solutions as there are climbers. It’s enormously satisfying to measure progress and notice yourself improving.

I don’t think I’d want to be a gecko after all, or even wear gecko tape if there were such a thing. It would take away all the fun of finding my own way up.

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