How A Scary Rock Climbing Mistake Helped Me Prepare For Mars One

citizen mars

My best friend Vanessa Nigro Halby and I used to climb almost daily. We met at the climbing gym, when I saw her tumbling off the top of a bouldering wall because she missed the last dyno. That’s climbing speak for a move that can only be made by jumping for it. If you miss it, you’ll fall.

We’d end up climbing together for years afterwards. Sometimes in the local Malibu Creek State Park where M.A.S.H. was filmed, or Williamson Rock before it closed in December 2005 to preserve the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog habitat.

We even did silly things like prance around the Bishop desert in high heels while climbing in our undies, just for the hell of it. One of our favorite spots was Joshua Tree National Park, where Citizen Mars came to film.

Just finished shooting my Mars One video!

— Sue Ann Pien 邊思恩 (@SueAnnPien) August 25, 2013

As our comfort level grew with one another, we unwisely stopped reviewing our safety measures with the same care as when we first started climbing. Most climbers know that 99% of accidents and fatalities in this sport happens from human error and not equipment failure. Vanessa had sadly lost a loved one to a tragic climbing incident a few years ago already. We understood what the risks were.

One outing, we took a newbie with us to Point Dume along the Pacific Coast Highway. It was known for some sketchy bolts near the ocean but the views were fantastic. I saw dolphins jump out of the water when I finished a sunset lead there once.

We had just lowered the newbie from her first climb. Vanessa put her harness on, and I was all set to belay. I should have —> Read More