|Scott and I celebrate Half Dome by crossing our hiking staffs|
July 24, 2012
Derek Redmond, Climbing Half Dome and Receiving Aid from Fathers
Scott and I just returned today from California after climbing up to Half Dome. It was a strenuous hike, harrowing at times because of the steep slippery granite terrain. First I had to battle my fear of heights—Half Dome majestically towers over Yosemite Valley at the elevation of 8800 feet. Then I had my physical preparation—I had trained for several months for this, but had been hobbled a few months ago when I twisted my ankle. I found myself really struggling to catch my breath in such thin air at this elevation. The trail ascends upward to gain about 5000 feet in elevation from the valley floor. It took 14 hours to cover the 17 miles we traversed to get up and back. At one point, I was weeping as I prayed for help climbing up the steep incline of Sub Dome, which sits at the base of the peak of Half Dome. Heavenly Father helped me overcome my fears and ascend that hurdle. On Sub dome, I enjoyed a stunning view of Yosemite Valley and the surrounding High Sierra Mountains.
This experience made me think of an Olympic athlete who received the help of his father to complete his race. Derek Redmond, a 28 year old British athlete, was competing in the 400 meter semifinals during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He was favored to win this event and showed his strength as he led the pack around the track.
As he rounded a corner with 250 meters to go, he collapsed in agony. It felt like he had been hit by an arrow in the back of his leg. His hamstring had torn—an extremely painful injury. Medical personnel raced to help him, but he waved them off. He struggled to his feet and continued around the track, hopping on his good leg. His competitors had already sped past him—he clearly had no chance of winning anymore. But Derek was intent on finishing this race. He would not drop out.
Meanwhile, Derek’s dad Jim was on his feet. He scrambled through the crowds from his seat in the bleachers and barged past security to get onto the track. He rushed to his son. “You don’t have to put yourself through this,” he told Derek. Derek said simply, “Yes, I do.” Jim responded, “Well then, we’re going to finish this together.” He wrapped his strong arms around his son, pulled him close and supported him as he limped to the finish line. The 65,000 spectators stood applauding this display of individual determination and fatherly love and support.
One commentator wrote, “Derek didn’t walk away with the gold medal, but he walked away with an incredible memory of a father who, when he saw his son in pain, left his seat in the stands to help him finish the race.” Although Derek finished dead last, with his fathers’ support, he DID finish!
Often we can’t do what we set out to do alone. Even with the best preparation and most earnest effort, there are things we can’t control. Even if your dad isn’t physically there to help you and support you, you always can count on your Heavenly Father to help. I know I needed His help to reach Half Dome, and we really need His help and support daily in our smaller challenges. He has told us to rely on Him through the prophet Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9.)
For more information, see:
Harris, Gerald. Olympic Heroes; World-Class Athletes Winning at Life pp. 53-56.
Watch the event described here on YouTube by searching “Derek Redmond 1992 Olympics.”
If you’d like to learn more about our hike up Half Dome, see http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm The video shows the climb very realistically.