Rock climbing has historically had one golden rule: The leader must not fall. EVER. Not two feet, not 20 feet. You stay attached to the rock at all times, lest you land yourself in a world of trouble. 150 feet off the deck on an isolated cliff in the middle of West Virginia, I’m contemplating breaking this iron fast rule.
I yell down to my climbing partner Jeff: “I think I’m going to fall!” Jeff’s eyes go wide as he tightens his grip on the rope, his knuckles flashing white as he prepares to catch one big fall. Just as I’m about to break my tenuous grip with Mother Earth and go careening off into space, Jeff yells back: “Wait, don’t fall!”