Adventures in Climbing

Adventures in Climbing

By Contributor

I spent several days this week trying to find someone with the moxie (and free time) to climb the rock wall with me. My friends don’t seem to realize that when I make a promise to a group of internet people, as I did at the end of last week’s post, I mean business! If I broke my promise, I could slightly disappoint up to several Sparklers, and that’s unacceptable.

Thankfully, I did find someone to accompany me. Let’s call her Jenny.

You may be wondering why I couldn’t just go by myself. To that I say, “shut up.” The climbing wall is intimidating, man. Not only is it tall, but it is eternally covered by a bunch of my well-muscled peers, who seem to defy the very laws of gravity as they scramble to the top of the wall, where I can only assume a pot of gold is hidden. As for me, if anything I think gravity affects me more than most people, probably due to the curse that old witch placed on me after I stole her broomstick.

So, it was with mild apprehension and characteristic stubbornness that I marched up to the counter in front of the rock wall and announced that Jenny and I would like to give it a try. After filling out a few forms and essentially signing our lives away for the gazillionth time (they’re big on waivers around here), Jenny and I put on climbing shoes and harnesses. We walked over to a girl who worked there and let her know we were ready to make fools of ourselves.

I selflessly volunteered to go first, and was promptly tied to a rope which hooked over a pulley at the top of the wall and led back to the ground, which allowed the girl who worked there to belay me, which is fancy talk for “hold the other end of the rope so that I wouldn’t die when I inevitably fell.”

Bright-eyed and naïve, I started to climb… and promptly slipped. For a girl who habitually shakes her fist at long flights of stairs, climbing a vertical wall with only small bits of rock-shaped plastic to aid in my ascent was not exactly my area of expertise. It took me a couple more embarrassing slips before I more or less got the hang of it and was able to make actual vertical progress. Thankfully, all my previous working out has left me with arms and legs that are not complete jelly, and so it was less a question of my strength as it was a question of figuring out where I should put my feet and hands in order to continue upward.

It was something of a tricky endeavor. Even with the climbing shoes, my feet sometimes threatened to slip off the footholds, and every time I reached up hoping for an easy handhold, it seemed I was met with smooth plastic that did not easily provide a grip. One thing I will say, though, is that the height didn’t bother me. I was somewhat surprised by this, as I am usually a little leery of heights (in an I’d-rather-not-die kind of way as opposed to an irrational fear kind of way). However, today it seemed a good idea to trust my life to a thin purple rope. And hey, I’m alive to write this, so clearly that trust was not misplaced.

I managed to make it maybe 85% of the way up when I was met with a challenge I could not overcome. Try as I might, I could not get past a certain spot, and the more I tried, the sweatier my hands got, which made me more likely to slip no matter how I wiped them on my shirt (classy, huh?). Of course, each time I slipped, I was left dangling maybe 40 feet above the ground, which was not so much frightening as it was annoyingly undignified. Eventually, I had to call it quits and return to the ground.

Jenny tried the wall after me and was met with similar difficulty. The girl belaying us said there's rather a steep learning curve in climbing (steep! It’s so punny!). I don’t disagree with her there, but I did have a great time on the rock wall despite my failure.

For better or worse, my experience on the climbing wall has awakened the same bull-headed stubbornness that got me through 6 AP classes my senior year of high school, with rehearsal until 10 o’clock each night. That is to say, I’m not giving up. I will reach the top of that wall, dang it! This is personal.

Stay tuned next Thursday, when I regale you with my tale of hiking through the desert!

Have you ever attempted to climb a wall?

Related post: Adventures in Cardio

Topics: sparkler posts, fitness, rock-climbing, working out, college life, travelwriter21

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