Leonard wanted to face his fears and put them in their place. But then he was involved in an accident while climbing near Moab, Utah, that forced him to reckon with his identity once again.
Leonard wanted to face his fears and put them in their place. But then he was involved in an accident while climbing near Moab, Utah, that forced him to reckon with his identity once again. (Courtesy Matthew Van Biene)
Adventures in Audio

Embracing a Fear of Falling

Leonard wanted to face his fears and put them in their place. But then he was involved in an accident while climbing near Moab, Utah, that forced him to reckon with his identity once again.

If you’re a climber, the risk of falling is always there—it's an essential fact about the sport. And for a lot of climbers, this is actually part of the appeal. That was definitely how Brendan Leonard saw it. Today, Leonard is best known as a trail runner and the creator of Semi-Rad, where he publishes essays and illustrations about life as a nonprofessional athlete. But back in his twenties, climber was the identity Leonard latched on to while he was recovering from alcohol addiction and trying to figure out what kind of person he was going to be, despite the fact that climbing scared him. Leonard wanted to face his fears and put them in their place. But then he was involved in an accident while climbing near Moab, Utah, that forced him to reckon with his identity once again. In this first episode of our new series, The Wild Files, we look at what happens when you decide that you’ve had enough of being afraid.


This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, a 4×4 SUV with seven available G.O.A.T. modes that enable it to go over any type of terrain. Learn more at ford.com/bronco

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Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since expanded our show and now offer a range of story formats, including interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, as well as reports from our correspondents in the field.