Fear can hold you back or drive you, turn you to steel or reduce you to mush.

Fear can hold you back or drive you, turn you to steel or reduce you to mush.

Years ago, Andy Politz was afraid of heights.

Then he moved west to guide trips on Washington's Mount Rainier. Then he tackled climbing expeditions in the peaks of Alaska, Pakistan and New Zealand. Then he scaled Mount Everest in 1991 - and returned eight years later to find the body of George Mallory, a British alpinist who went missing in 1924.

In a way, Politz is still afraid of heights.

Fear shaped Politz. It never stopped him.

"You kind of get acclimated to it," said Politz, who lives in Columbus with his wife and sons. "You should learn to coexist with fear - to become kind of buddy-buddy with fear. It's the older brother that's going to hit you in the shoulder, but you learn a lot from it."

Politz will teach how to manage fear above ground during a two-part seminar Sept. 5 and 12 at Scioto Audubon Metro Park's acclaimed climbing wall.

The classes are designed for people who have some gear, have done some climbing and are dabbling in things other than man-made structures. Registration is required, and you can nab a spot by calling 614-508-8111.

"I think this is a really exciting time to be looking at outdoor adventure in Central Ohio," he said, noting new facilities for hiking, biking and climbing. "Guys have the vision and the will to make stuff happen."

Things weren't so easy when Politz started reaching over his head.

He started climbing in middle school, spending afternoons at John Bryan State Park, Hayden Run and a quarry near Bethel Road. After high school, when he yearned for bigger ascents, he started working on techniques and camping with more experienced climbers.

In a pinch, he made his own gear - packs, parkas, sleeping bags and bivy sacks. He pushed himself, developing the diverse skill set needed to tackle the world's terrain.

Today he's eager to teach others how to take their first steps.

"You need different tools in your toolbox," he said. "You don't show up with one wrench and hope it fits."