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Summer will be officially ending in less than two weeks! How did this last summer of freedom fly by so quickly? I kept myself so entertained with my scuba diving, Mexican food explorations, and traveling that I didn’t realize my last summer was quickly slipping away. My rude awakening to the upcoming academic year was a friendly C-Tools announcement informing all returning students that an M2 orientation would begin bright and early at 7 a.m. on Monday, August, 15, before jumping right into our first lecture. My blissful summer was interrupted by C-Tools and now the countdown to August 15th has begun… 10 days left.

A week before receiving that unfortunate reminder, I picked up a new hobby! A few kilometers outside my small town of Real del Monte, I visited the Parque Nacional El Chico, the oldest national park in Mexico. With 2,800 hectares of pine trees, waterfalls, and rock formations, the park is an ideal location for my newest love – outdoor rock climbing!

Getting ready for my first outdoor climb!

I first tried rock climbing last year at the University of Michigan’s indoor rock climbing wall, M Rock. I went with a group of fellow M1s and had an awesome time with the sport, but unfortunately I was not able to continue regularly climbing because of academic demands and my desire to get involved with student organizations. Yes, indoor rock climbing was fun, but I soon discovered that outdoor rock climbing is even more amazing!

Sofia and I began our adventure bright and early Sunday when we took a taxi to the park’s visitor center to meet our instructor, Zenon Rosas. We began the day easy by first climbing a 15 meter rock. I reached the very top and rappelled down twice – success! We then moved on to a real challenge, el Fistol del Diablo, an intimidating 45 meter rock formation. Sadly, ten meters short of the top, my fear of heights became overpowering. Instead of pushing on and continuing to climb, I wedged myself into one of the rock’s crevices and refused to continue. In that moment, I felt weak for giving in to my fear and stopping short of my goal, but at the same time I was able to realize my limits and was not afraid to pull back. A few bumps and bruises later, I rappelled down from the rock, looked up, and was amazed I even attempted the “devil” with only two real climbs under my belt. I now have another good reason to return to Mexico… to move forward, climb upward, and finally reach the top!

Trying to capture the monstrosity of the rock in this photo, but failing! "Where's Waldo" moment: Try and spot my instructor on the rock!

Crammed into one of the rock's crevices on the climb up

The view from 35 meters