Senior Hayley Moulden Pushes Herself in Her Passion for Rock-Climbing

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By Chloe Hortsman

She hooks herself into the harness and prepares for the strenuous ascent as her partner holds the rope steady. She knows that the climb may exhaust all of her physical strength as she strains her muscles to cling to the handles, but senior Hayley Moulden pulls herself up to the next ledge, climbing closer to the top of the rock wall.

After moving several times across the country and landing in St. Louis, Hayley began homeschooling her junior year in order to be on track for her senior year at her next school: FHN. However, she needed a physical education credit, so she and her dad, Bill Moulden, looked up gyms within their area and chose to venture back into the world of rock climbing at Upper Limits in Maryland Heights. Now, rock climbing is no longer a requirement for Hayley, but a passion she devotes hours after school to improving in.

“It started off as just us needing to find a way for Hayley to meet the physical education requirement,” Bill said. “It really turned into something that she has deeply, deeply fallen in love with.”

Hayley and her father became certified to belay, a type of rock climbing in which the climber is attached to a rope that their partner holds to keep them from falling, through a course at the gym. Since the class, Hayley has continued to improve in her techniques and increased in strength.

“The one thing I love about rock climbing is that it’s so evident where you grew at, just physically and even mentally,” Hayley said. “Some of those walls are like a puzzle and you have to figure it out. Each time I go, I feel like I have gotten stronger.”

Every day that Hayley comes to the gym, she pushes herself to reach her goals of being able to scale the walls without taking breaks and to try harder levels. Aside from prompting her to excel when she is drained, rock climbing has also taught her to be patient with herself.

“I just really wanted to complete this wall without any breaks or anything,” Hayley said. “But when I do take a break I get very frustrated. I think one of the struggles I’ve overcome is to become very patient with myself, and just tell myself it’s okay. And then once I overcame that, I was just flying through the walls, I got up there all the way instead of going back down.”

When she leaves the gym, she is relieved of pent up stress and the workout puts her in a good mood. Her father believes that rock climbing has become a source of confidence for Hayley, as she continues to  improve, and he thinks that she fits into the supportive atmosphere of climbing seamlessly.

“When you see success in one area of your life, it gives you the hope and the trust that you’re going to see success in other areas,” Bill said. “Even if you’re starting a new school, even if you’re coming into a situation where it’s your senior year and you don’t know anyone, where do you get your confidence from? I think rock climbing helped her to say ‘Well I might not know a lot, I might not have a lot of friends, but I have something that I know I’m getting better at.”