For a while, when I was in my 30s, I was into rock climbing. I never scaled any really large faces, although I did do a few three pitch climbs (a pitch is a little less than the length of a rope—50 metres). There are several levels of fear and even kinds of fear that one must encounter and work through as one climbs. There are irrational fears, like the fear of heights, or of spiders or of snakes—all of which one encounters rock climbing in Southern California. There is the fear of equipment failure, or the more realistic fear of making a mistake with the equipment—knots are checked and rechecked, anchors are trebled, everything is thought through. Then there is the fear of your partner failing, of his not paying attention or not being careful when care is most needed. Learning to confront and overcome these fears in myself was one of the most important and inspiring aspects of rock climbing for me.
Every time I put on the harness to climb, I felt the fear anew, but fear quickly gives way to joy the more you climb. And when the day is done, it is the joy that remains. The joy stays with you and the fear passes away.