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The Lulek File

Written by Melanie Stuparyk
Posted Jul 31, 2008

The rare athlete will remember that feeling and devote his/her life to sharing it with others. Rutland, Vt. resident Steve Lulek is an example of such an athlete.

Some athletes spend their entire lives attempting to manufacture the ultimate adrenaline rush. This brand of  goals does not revolve around wins or losses, times or splits, scores or grades. Often times, early in his/her respective life, he/she experiences the natural hormone of adrenaline and decides that recreating that specific moment is the overwhelming goal.

The rare athlete will remember that feeling and devote his/her life to sharing it with others. Rutland, Vt. resident Steve Lulek is an example of such an athlete.

The 48-year-old began pushing his body to its limits in 1988 when he enlisted in Military Mountaineering School as part of the United States Army. He later became an elite rock climbing instructor at the Jericho, Vt. school, where he trained military personnel in various climbing skills including ropes, repellents, helicoptor ascents, scaling cliffs and invading enemy terrain. Many of the tactics he taught are still being used by the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

“In teaching those tactics, the adrenaline was unprecedented for me,” Lulek says. “It was a case of pairing the natural adrenaline that comes with climbing to great heights with the focus needed to teach skills in a manner where I felt confident that people could execute them in the most stressful situations.”

Lulek served 10 years in the Army before retiring in 1998. Feeling that his mission to share his enthusiasm for climbing was incomplete, he began teaching at Green Mountain Climbing Center in Rutland, Vt. Lulek and his wife of 30 years, Sherry, purchased the business five years ago.

“I’ve never seen him fail anything he’s tried to do,” Sherry says. “There are so many ways I’ve seen him overcome and persist. Men that he taught in the service have called to say he totally changed their lives for the better. Kids he teaches here send him letters and bring him pictures. People always say he’s been an inspiration and helped them change for the better.”

Now, 20 years after Lulek began rock climbing, he is beginning to master the art of channeling adrenaline. In accordance with the rest of his life, he plans to share his expertise with his future students.

“The first or second time you climb you may struggle with that adrenaline,” Lulek says. “There will be a time, though—it may be the seventh time, it may be the 70th time —when it all makes sense. You’ll feel yourself using your feet rather than your arms to lift yourself. You’ll feel so relaxed. All that adrenaline is channeled into an amazing rush, and it’s hard to put into words.”

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