Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rock Climbing

It's official. March's mystery sport is... rock climbing! I am psyched.

No, the Oscars did not influence this choice (although I did recently see 127 Hours... but it's not a climbing story that really brings people to the sport). In fact, I can't really think of a movie that references a female climber - instead I imagine Tom Cruise dangling effortlessly on a rock face in Mission Impossible.

For the record, I do not intend to go outdoors and try to climb a mountain any time soon. I like the safety of a monitored environment and the idea of being surrounded by a lot of people. I'll be experimenting on a few different climbing walls though.

My decision to learn to climb couldn't be better timed. Just this week a local climbing facility announced that it will be hosting the first North American World Youth Climbing Championships in 2013. (Read about it here.) The sport is catching on and gaining legitimacy. In fact, the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) is making strides in its campaign to be recognized by the Olympic Committee. According to the UIAA there is mountaineering, climbing, and ice climbing. The UIAA is on the road to getting ice climbing officially declared a sport in the Winter Olympics. And, the Boulders Climbing Gym indicates that "in 2008, climbing was recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and is moving through the process to become an Olympic event." Clearly I'm receiving a sign from a higher power that I should be trying this sport!

I'm looking forward to learning the lingo of the climbing world. For example, "aid climbing" versus "free climbing" - with aid climbing you rely on the ropes and gear to help you; free climbing is apparently like it sounds, without anything to help you. The photo of Tom Cruise is an example of free climbing. Judging by my mighty arm muscles, I will probably be in the aid climbing community this month. But, maybe my boxing practice has prepared me better than I'm aware.

If you want to find a place to learn to climb too, check out this great resource on the Climbing Wall Association website. (I didn't know there was an association either!) If you have any tips, please share.

Hold your harness ladies and gentlemen; it's going to get rocky.

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