Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chalk and a little creativity

It's unclear to me if there is a rock climbing expert. However, after almost a month of climbing, I've learned that with hand chalk and a little creativity, most climbs are possible!

In the photo to the left you see me belaying Timal. He's a great climber. Honestly, he makes the most challenging routes look fairly effortless. It was the first time I belayed him on a route that he was actually wondering if he could complete though. And I discovered the other side of climbing in a real way - being the belayer.

Even the most experienced climbers can slip off the wall, jump for a hold they can't reach, or get tired and need a minute to hang off the wall and strategize. I didn't tell Timal this at the time, but I kept thinking, "What happens if he falls and I drop him? I don't know first aid!" Luckily climbing gyms often have climbing ropes anchored to the ground that a light belayer can hook into. With the assurance of that anchor, knowing that Timal's weight falling would not pull me up,  I did my job. And, of course I watched as Timal completed yet another ridiculously challenging climb!

Strategy session with Jen - one of many!
Then it was my turn. I climbed the same wall you see Timal on. But of course, I didn't think to take any pictures, which pains me because it was the hardest climb I've completed. The wall juts out on an angle, so you start the climb in the hardest position - you need to use all of your strength just to stay hanging on.

Here's the lesson: If you try climbing, make sure you bring encouraging people with you.

With Jen and Timal's encouragement, I got past challenging move after challenging move. And even better, with their comments from the ground looking up, it made my success that much more rewarding. On the wall, I was simply focused on moving. But on the ground, they could see how I was maneuvering and would comment when I did moves that, to them, were creative.

One of the interesting things about climbing is that people don't necessarily go up the same way. Depending on your height, weight, arm span, flexibility, and strength, a climb can be tackled a number of ways. Heck, I witnessed Jen make a move by resting her right foot on a hold and her right knee on a slightly higher hold - I have no idea how she moved out of that, but she did!

So get yourself some hand chalk so you don't slip and then get out there! (If you're like me, you'll love how toned your arms are when you get home!)

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