Recently, I’ve started supplementing my workouts with sessions at a climbing gym, in hopes of building grip strength and ability at things like the Spartan traverse wall or rope climbs (and that boffo sloth walk too!).
One of my climbing buddies (a group that overlaps with my gym buddies a lot, by which I mean 100%) suggested I livetweet a session. So I am. Sort of.
See, the climbing gym is a great place, but it’s not a great place for a phone—lots of chalk around, and lots of moving about from problem (i.e., route) to problem, meaning lots of opportunities to either damage or forget the phone. So I decided to livetweet by taking notes in a cheap blue notebook. I looked like an absolute twat.
Plus, it’s not really livetweeting, since I’m not putting my notes on Twitter, and I’m posting it three days after the climbing session happened. So I should call it oldblogging. I’m not going to (see the Rules of the Blog, which permit me to lie) but I should.
As neat as splitting hairs about semantics is, let’s get to it.
2:00 pm: As I emerge from the locker room, my climbing buddy arrives. A quick change of her clothes and we’re ready to go.
2:10 pm: We successfully climb our first problem. It’s maybe not that impressive—just a short, basic starter route—but nice to get it under our belt.
2:22 pm: Frustration. I’m having way more trouble than usual on my favorite route—the one in the cave that requires you to hang backwards and horizontal. There’s one hold on the ceiling of the wall that is kind of tricky because you want to grab it with your right hand but then your other hands are out of position. I don’t know how many hands I’ve got, but when I’m climbing, it seems like I’ve got about 14, all of them placed wrong.
2:27 pm: There’s a new route this week, labeled V1 (difficulty goes from V0 to V9), but I don’t believe that rating. It had a pair of Pac-Man-esque holds, big and round and yellow with gaps in the middle that you’re supposed to grab onto. I could have used an Energizer. Or a power pellet. Even a bleeping 100-point cherry would have helped.
2:31 pm: Another new route, a V0, with a starting hold that looks like a nose. It’s not particularly difficult, although it is a bit awkward just because the wall is angled backward a bit—until you hit a lip that goes straight up. Coming down is terrifying.
2:37 pm: Weird smooth ones plank like. Do you know what I meant here, because I absolutely do not.
2:42 pm: There’s a route with a couple holds that look a bit like wishbones. They’re tricky, because the holds are pretty much vertical so you there’s nothing to hook your hands around. I actually made some progress this week, getting past the wishbones for the first time. But the next hand hold is pretty small, and I panicked.
Interlude: Panic is something I need to worry about. There are several times where I think I fell more because I felt like I should be falling—because the hold was less easy to hold on to than I wanted, or because my feet were on a tiny little hold off to the side—rather than because gravity actually demanded that I be on the ground. I need to endeavor to stay calm and hold on rather than dropping the moment things get weird.
2:48 pm: Working on the other “easy” cave route. The trickiness of this route is that the footholds are quite small and not directly under the hand holds. Jumping to reposition your feet seems to be morally wrong, but it’s the only way I’ve figured out how to do it. Also, a fellow suggested I turn more sideways to keep my body closer to the wall, which helped.
2:55 pm: Water and rest break. During which we have two chance run-ins with other people from our regular gym. The climbing gym is practically a western branch. I hope the trainer who was the first to tell us all about it gets some kind of a recruitment bonus.
3:12 pm: We start on a V1 in the corner, and I realize that I would like to have a spectacular fall. I’m scared to fall, even though the boulders aren’t terribly high and there are 2-foot-thick mats protecting us. I have a feeling it will take a couple falls to get me over it. This one gets me a little bit closer to that goal—the route has narrow hand holds with big horizontal gaps between them, and there are a few instances where I fall in a sort-of-uncontrolled manner. Wait, let’s make that more exciting. There’s one fall where I spin 870 degrees through a plate glass window, and another where I tragically die but not before I save a baby whose gotten too close to the edge of the Grand Canyon. It’s amazing.
3:16 pm: We realize that it’s difficult to do two things at once when we attempt to tango while climbing. The climb is a disaster and Carrie Ann Inaba only gave the tango a 6.
3:19 pm: I successfully complete the V1… technically. I really shouldn’t count it, but I still turn my attention to a route that looks like an upside-down green Smurf village, complete with Azreal’s hairball as a starting point.
3:24 pm: What I lack in courage or skill, I make up for in height. Azreal’s hairball gives no purchase for my hands, but I can still climb the route if I cheat.
3:28 pm: We move on to a V6, which is just plain silly. It’s a route that requires a jump; you swing from practically ground level to a ledge several feet away. I get nowhere close, but it’s better than last week, when I tried the jump and didn’t actually succeed in letting go of both of the hand holds.
3:33 pm: I feel very cool. There’s a new V0 route that isn’t really all that hard, because it’s got pretty easy holds to grab onto, but it’s pretty tall and you are angled slightly backwards. When I get down, my forearms are shaking.
3:38 pm: My climbing buddy puts it back: It’s always a good day when you end up covered in chalk.
3:42 pm: My hands are done. How done? Well, coming out of the bathroom, I manage to hurt myself grabbing the door handle wrong. Yeah, apparently there’s a wrong way to grab a door handle.
All things considered, I’m really glad to have started climbing. It’s really valuable to have something to look forward to that occurs on a regular basis, and as one of my climbing buddies observed, knowing you’re going to have to hold your body weight up is a good motivation to not chow down on everything that stands still and is properly cooked and non-poisonous. (Although if I fail the traverse wall come May, I’ll take it all back and demand my hands be super-moisturized until they have fewer callouses than a baby’s butt. I’m not sure how we’re going to compare, because I’m not asking my brother if I can use my nephew for that purpose, but as I don’t plan to fail the traverse wall it shouldn’t come up.)