Overcoming obstacles – tower climb

On the 4th day of the 2014 S3 program all 17 of the S3 students were introduced to the Alpine tower by our Mountain Challenge instructor, Bruce Guillaume. While he spoke about the tower, I observed the tower and all its glory. I thought to myself, “how on earth could a human being possibly climb such a piece of equipment?”

Walking upon a 60 foot tall tower can be very intimidating. There are so many thoughts and emotions going through your mind at once. The fears, the doubts, and the what-ifs all consume you. Yet the idea of standing on top of the Alpine tower looking down to see how far you’d come outweighs any possible fear.


Bruce explains the ropes, explaining how the equipment is engineered. Redundancy is built in everywhere, so that there is always a backup available.

But before anyone could climb the tower Bruce went over the ropes, literally. He showed us every important instrument and all the equipment that would be assisting us to our success. Bruce, along with other Mountain Challenge workers, displayed examples of what was expected during this activity and the proper procedure for an exciting and safe time.


Jades belay team, Henry and Amanda


Bruce divided  all the S3 students into groups of three. My group consisted of Henry Daniels, Amanda Smith and myself. I went first while Henry was my belayer, he was in charge of my overall safety. It is the belayer’s job to take and give rope to the climber as she moves up the tower; additionally, the belayer gives positive feedback and helps navigate from the ground. Amanda was my rope collector she took up the excess rope that Henry would take from my rope line.



Obstacles on the tower include creepy spiders.

I was very skeptical about going up the tower due to my partners’ inexperience and giving full responsibility for my personal safety to someone else. Climbing the Alpine tower not only took physical ability but mental ability. You had to continue to tell yourself that you could go as far as you wanted to.

While some made it to the very top and others didn’t. I feel as if we all set our own personal goals and were happy with what we accomplished. This activity, while it was meant to be a recreational activity gave me a lot of insight on what life and college would be like for the next four years.




Climbing the tower is a team effort.

I have always known that I had confidence but never have I encountered such a challenge. I used that confidence to face the tower, it pushed me to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. There were times I wanted to give up but I was able to persevere and continue on with the support that I was given from my group from the ground. Like the ropes and harness that was used for safety, this activity assured me of the safety and support of the staff and students at Maryville College.


Submitted by Jade Robinson, 2014 Scots Science Scholar

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