A Rock Climbing Fable for the Ages

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I headed to the rock climbing gym as per usual. We donned our gear, chalked up our hands, and hit the wall. There were a dozen or so new routes in the back corner of the gym, and after a warm up, we headed over to check them out.

If you aren’t familiar with climbing gyms, here’s a little primer on how it works. The easiest routes are rated 5.5. If you’re an adult, these get old quick. The holds are easy and close together. Ratings go up to about 5.14 or so (it gets more complicated than that but it’s all you need to know for now). At my gym, when a new route is set a scorecard is put out and climbers can rate it however they think fit. Eventually, someone takes all the ratings and narrows it down to one rating.

600_434194106A year or so into climbing, I can climb a 5.9 pretty reliably. Once in awhile I meet one that vexes me. I have climbed the occasional 5.10. But this weekend I found myself faced with something interesting. Instead of a bunch of scorecards on the new routes, they were simply marked with colored tape. There were absolutely no ratings to be seen.

We stood before the wall, assessing the new routes. You usually have some idea of whether or not something is within your wheelhouse. But I found myself looking at one route on a sharp corner with lots of tiny little holds thinking, “I can do that.” My boyfriend guessed it might be a 5.11. I decided to throw myself at it anyway.  Continue reading

Why I Climb

I have to retract a statement. In a recent post I called kickboxing “the only workout I can stand.” It turns out that was a lie. I guess I didn’t know myself as well as I thought. You see, I’ve taken up rock climbing and I am smitten. 

climbing

Grace in motion.

A couple of years ago my boyfriend, Brian, and I were walking through the local Apple Harvest Festival and stopped by a tent for the nearby rock climbing gym. The young man who was manning the booth gave us a couple of free passes. In our joint quest to get in better shape, we finally used those passes in March. I was feeling a little worse for the wear after throwing myself whole hog into cardio boxing. I went to three classes in 7 days and by the last class I was seeing improvement in my cardio stamina but my abs were D.O.N.E. We got to the last 15 minutes of class and I could hardly pick my legs up off the ground. I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle.

So when Brian asked if I wanted to finally use our climbing passes that weekend, I lept at the excuse to not have to go back to the boxing gym right away. We took a belay class and were unleashed on the gym.

We haven’t looked back since.  Continue reading