Today, I took the biggest fall I have taken in my climbing life to date and it was exhilarating!
I got my lead climbing license the week before but was in the top rope comfort zone – they had been so conveniently placed in the climbing gym and were practically pleading with me to use them… I couldn’t disappoint them like that.
One week later, my partner and I decided to man-up and at least start on a fairly safe looking 19; I’d just gotten over a minor angled wall, my left hand was in a angled pocket requiring my weak wrist to hold the grip statically at a somewhat awkward angle. I then needed to maneuver my body slowly to the hold placed further right. Suddenly, my foot popped off and there was no way for me to grab the left grip to stabilize. I’d climbed quiet far past my last clip and was suspended in the air for what felt like forever (picture those slow motion movie scenes).
The thought process in my mind was surreal; “what’s going on?” … “oh shit, I’m falling” … “better get those legs out” and on that last thought, I felt a solid force on my feet and realised I was ok.
I wasn’t scared and for me, if I could always take falls as calmly as that, I would. The only way it could happen is if you don’t expect to fall…
So now the hard part, how to climb and trick the brain into thinking you’ll never fall but be completely prepared for it when you do?
Climbing has become such an integral part of my weekly routine; I couldn’t really pin point when it all transpired. I do however remember how it all started…
A friend had invited us to go indoor climbing one Saturday afternoon, it was really an excuse get together but to also try and do something different than the usual lunch or drinks.
The first wall, deemed ‘the easy wall’ took a lot of effort, I could feel the sweat breaking out underneath my arms but I got to the top. Lowering off was easy as I was familiar with planting my feet against the wall and walking down – I had abseiled before. The straight wall was a lot tougher (especially since I had used most of my energy to try not fall on my first attempt). I did everything in my power haul myself to the top. My bruised knees and shins were testament to my valiant effort (and lack of technique).
Weekends went by and soon we found ourselves inviting other people to join us every odd weekend. We went climbing on our own when people couldn’t make it.
We got to a point where we realised it would be more cost efficient to buy our own harnesses and shoes. The amount of options were overwhelming, we were like children in a candy store – only limited how much pain we were willing to subject our feet to (the more technical footwear meant signing up for nothing short of the ancient ‘art’ of Chinese foot binding) and how much money we were willing to spend… At the end, we swallowed our pride, took a realistic look in the mirror and went with one of the more beginner options.
Soon after, another couple invited us to join a friend of theirs who was going outdoor climbing – we got our first taste of climbing on rock (who knew that you could actually climb real rock faces and not ACWs decorated with colourful holds!)
We got ourselves educated and went on a beginners climbing course and have now been happily climbing ever since.
Writing this inspired me to find out when I started climbing. After trolling through some history chats, I found out it was in November of 2009! I had been telling people that we had started about 4 years ago only to realise it was closer to 6.
I suppose there is truth in ‘time flies when you’re having fun’