Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rock climbing

The day after Christmas, John headed home to Atlanta for his work with the upcoming Chick-fil-A bowl (a shameless promo for the event... tune in Dec. 31!). Meanwhile, I ventured to a rock climbing center with Dad. We love hiking, playing tennis, and running together so this was the latest in our active adventures.

Dad had been indoor rock climbing with a friend last month, and his excitement made me have to give it a try while I was home. When we arrived, we were given a 15 minute lesson on how to strap into the harness, tie the appropriate knots for the rope, and how to belay. Having never been in Girl Scouts, I found learning the figure eight with follow through and double fisherman knot to be rather complicated. However, after practicing a few times (then using it again and again throughout the day) it soon became easy enough.

For those who had never been rock climbing, below is a brief video explanation:

We started on the easier walls that are slightly slanted forward, which lets gravity help you out. Then we tried out the completely vertical walls which were up to 32 feet tall. I was amazed at how frightening it is climbing that high with only a rope holding you. Although the fear somewhat subsided by my fourth climb, at one point I yelled down to Dad, "There is no way I would ever do this on a mountain!"

I found climbing challenging but very rewarding. Some of the routes on the vertical walls had such small grooves to grab onto and little rocks to step on that it required a lot of flexibility. At some points, my arms and legs were stretched far apart like Silly Putty and then the next move would require that I scrunch my body up as small as I could. For this, I was grateful for my yoga DVDs - and long arms/legs and small feet. Physical body structure seemed to play a part for all the climbers I saw, but being able to get my body in strange "poses" (i.e. yoga) gave me an advantage over Dad (sorry Dad!).

I had such a feeling of accomplishment after looking to the top of the tall wall I had just conquered and seeing how far my fatigued arms and gripped fingers had made it.

Most rewarding part: Our last climb had an overhang, which juts out from the wall, that you have to get over to climb the rest of the way to the top. After a few tries, I was able to pull my body up with my forearms and swing my legs up and over the overhang, while grabbing the next groove in the rock. I couldn't believe I actually made it!

Funniest moment: Dad fell on one of the high climbs (no, that's not the funny part!), and although I accurately stopped the rope to keep him from hitting the ground, I couldn't let the slack out fast enough. So there he was, hanging, suspended 2 feet above the ground, banging into the wall repeatedly. Meanwhile, everyone around was laughing, and I was laughing so hard I couldn't move the rope and instead watched him dangling and swinging into the wall... oops.

Takeaway: Rock climbing was not only such a good workout (think sore forearms, back, abs, legs the next day) but one that was so rewarding. Getting to the top of a climb was exhilarating, and when Dad and I left after a couple hours (because we literally couldn't get our fingers to grip the rock anymore) I felt so accomplished. It's definitely a sport I want to try again... but only inside, I don't have quite the trill-seeker in me to want to risk my life on an actual boulder.

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