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Everyday Heroes in Thailand

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Railay, Thailand

Many times we can find everyday heroes all around us.

I witnessed a hero in action the other day.

We just arrived in Railay, Thailand a few days ago for a week of rock climbing.

The setting is extraordinary. Giant limestone walls overlooking the ocean are views that you’d think you can only find in the movies. It is the type of beauty that only mother nature could create.

The variety of climbing here is incredibly vast. They have everything from beginner routes to expert level. There are short climbs of 6-8 meters all the way to 100m+ multi-pitch routes.

One of our favorite areas to climb is a place called the Diamond Wall. It is a site perched on top of a hill with amazing views and great routes. There is also a hand ground organic coffee place on site which is an added bonus for coffee lovers like us!

It was our second day climbing at the wall when I witnessed something scary and inspiring at the same.

When you climb the walls in Railay, it is not compulsory to hire a guide. It is open and free to the public. As long as you know what you are doing and have your own gear, you are free to climb on your own. Most people, including us, hire a guide to make sure we are safe and help us navigate the walls better.

On this one particular morning, there was a duo there who were on their own.

From the moment I saw the climber on the wall, I knew they were people I needed to stay far away from.

The way climbing works is you have a climber who is attached to a rope, you have another person called the belayer who is attached to the other end of the rope. As the climber ascends the wall, he clips his rope to the wall to protect himself if he falls. If he falls, the belayer is there to hold the rope and keep him safe. At least, that is the idea granted that both parties know what they are doing.

This party did not.

You could tell from the beginning the climber did not know what he was doing. After he got about half way up the wall, it was very apparent that he was in serious danger. I only realized that because I heard one of the local guides frantically trying to tell the belayer he needs to take better care of his climber.

At this point, everyone around was concerned. The climber was stuck on the wall in a dangerous position. The belayer either didn’t seem to care or was ignorant to the fact that something was wrong, and he would not listen to the guide who was trying to help. Not only would he not listen, but he was being rude and condescending to the guide.

Here is the thing. The guide was getting paid to work with another group. He had no allegiance or direct responsibility to put himself in a position to get ridiculed and yelled at.

So why did he do it? Because it was the right thing to do.

Not only that, but he wouldn’t back down.

He took a stand for the climber on the wall no matter what.

He put his feelings and his ego aside because helping another individual was more important than staying comfortable and quiet.

Moments later, he threw on his harness, attached himself to a rope, and literally ran up the wall barefoot to rescue the climber that was in a really tough spot.

This man was certainly a hero.

It was a great reminder that we must stand up for what is right, not just what is easy.

It was a reminder that we must be courageous, even if it means we might be judged or ridiculed.

It was also a great reminder even though we may not think people are looking at us, they are. It is important we always act with integrity and set a good example for other people to follow.

Thank you, Mr. Climbing Instructor for demonstrating such courage out there on the wall.

People were watching, and you inspired all of us.

- Matt Westheimer