Something looked odd about this rappel. For the first time, he walked off the mountain face-first with his harness on backwards and device behind him, paying no attention to the old adage “don’t look down.”
“We find new ways to make it interesting and fun,” Trevor Nebeker, a sophomore from American Fork studying electrical engineering said. “You get used to it and so you’re trying to find something to make it more exciting or more dangerous.”
Nebeker first went rappelling four years ago with other young men and church leaders to prepare for a fifty-mile hike in Zion National Park. That first rappel left him shaking at the edge and the leaders thinking he wouldn’t make it on the trip.
“I hated heights and I still don’t like heights,” Nebeker said. “Trusting a little piece of metal to hold if you fall was an issue.”
Eventually Nebeker and his friends bought gear for their own climbing adventures. Even though his life is still in the hands of that little piece of metal, Nebeker continues to trust in his own climbing abilities and in those he takes with him.
“I would get on a rappel that I had someone else set up and I would trust them to go down,” Nebeker said. “It teaches me to trust other people and not be so overcautious, but still be able to look at something and double-check before I do something stupid.”
Nebeker’s mother, Stefanie Nebeker, said she’s had a hard time coping with the dangers of climbing ever since she found her son’s climbing gear in his room. He bought it while still in high school without telling his parents.
“I think it’s just hard when they get older and they get to make their own decisions and decide what they like,” Stefanie said. “Sometimes it’s not exactly what we like, but he’s my oldest, my first, so that’s why it scared me.”
Knowing how experienced her son is has calmed her worries. She said she feels like she can finally trust him now, but that doesn’t mean she’s done worrying.
“My big thing now is when he takes dates because I’d be scared to death to send my daughter rappelling with some teenager I didn’t even know,” Stefanie said. “I just think he’s got her life in his hands and that’s what scares me.”
Nebeker and his friends keep their gear in their cars. The gear came in handy on a trip to Las Vegas for a soccer tournament. The group saw a good spot to rappel from in the Virgin River gorge, so they pulled over and did it. Since Nebeker is a certified climber, he often goes as a guide with first-timers or even with a date.
“At first I really didn’t trust him, but then he told me about how he had gone a lot so I took his word for it,” Jessica Nuttall said. “It looked like fun so I wanted to try it.”
Nuttall, a sophomore from Auburn, Wash., studying math education, was one of two girls making the trip down to St. George earlier this spring for a 200-foot rappel, the longest that can be done on a single rope. After descending a few times she even decided to use Nebeker’s faster device to fall even quicker — a surprising feat considering she was too scared to go alone her first time down.
Whether an experienced climber, a belayer, a parent of a climber or even a first-timer, valuable life lessons can be learned from experiences with climbing.
“I feel like its taught me that I can overcome fears, and if I’m nervous about something, just try it and eventually I’ll be able to overcome it,” Nebeker said. “I feel like as far as learning for life and school goes, its taught me a lot about just trusting other people.”