It was getting steeper and steeper, and my heart started pounding faster with each little step that I took. My tired legs were weakening and dragging me back. I slid with each tenuous step and kept wishing my shoes would give me a better grip. I reached for the railings beside me and swore never to look back down the steep slopes of the largest marble found on earth, The Ayers Rock near Alice Springs, Australia. I was in Australia as an exchange student and the school had organized a three day tour for all the exchange students. I recalled the spontaneity with which I volunteered when the tour guide had asked us if anybody was willing to climb the rock and repented every moment of it. Apparently there was a superstition among the Aborigines that an Iceman existed at the peak of the rock and that he would chastise anyone who ascends it. Not one to abide by something that was beyond logic, and encouraged by my previous trekking experience in the Northern Himalayas, I decided to take on the challenge. And what followed was an experience I would never forget.
Halfway through the initial climb, my bravado abandoned me and I contemplated going back. But as I cautiously looked down, making sure my neck was the only part of my body that turned; I felt that the way down looked scarier than the way up. And then there was my conscience that kept egging me on towards accomplishing something that very few have been able to. When I couldn't battle with it any longer, I gave into it. With a half empty water bottle and a soul strengthened with courage and vigour, I continued the climb.
A number of strenuous steps later, I saw the railings end and thought I was at the top only to discover a little longer that it was but a mirage. I still had a long way to go, and I didn't know whether to feel happy about the fact that the gradient was no longer steep, or sad about the fact that the railings had ended and there was nothing to hold on to. I continued to trudge, using the...
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