Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mountain Climbing

I hope to be able to climb walls like this. In the future.

Monday evening, Sam and I went and did a rock climbing course at the local climbing centre. We'd decided we'd like to be a little more impulsive when it comes to trying new things. Last week I had a hankering to go climbing, so I booked us in for a course.

I'd been climbing before, on exactly two occasions. Both well over five years ago. The first time I climbed was on a St John Ambulance summer camp. There were two sessions run, with the opportunity to climb either the 20 metre wall or the 40 metre wall. Of course, after carefully considering that I'd never climbed before, I chose to do the 40 metre wall. The climbing wall at this place was basically just a tall, narrow tower. Think Big Ben without the clock and the pointy bit. It was rigged up so that the guy on the ground was using a one way knot of some kind; it was impossible to fall, but also impossible to climb back down.

The idea was, you'd climb to the top, have a quick change over and abseil back down a different side of the tower. Which was all well and good, except there were a few people who decided they wanted to come back down.

I didn't have a problem with the height. My problem was twofold; lack of technique and lack of upper body strength. I wasn't using my legs to push up as much as I should and my arms weren't strong enough to drag me the whole way up. So about 10 metres from the top, my arms gave out, and I just stayed there for a bit. I was way too high to contemplate coming back down, so I had to make it to the top. I was half dragged the rest of the way up, but I made it after a few falls. Abseiling down the other side was one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done.

My second climbing session was also with St John, but at a much smaller indoor wall and was much less terrifiying.

Sam had never climbed before, and has a bit of an issue with heights, which sounds like an utterly disastrous combination for rock climbing. But he said he'd try it and along we went. I remembered how awesome climbing was and settled in quite quickly, though I didn't climb to high on the  first wall due to strength issues. Sam started off apprehensively but quickly got into the rhythm. He got to the top of the wall before I did and when he cam down he looked absolutely elated. We completed the course, and are now lifetime members of the centre. We can go back any time we want, and we plan to.

Today, I still ache in place I wasn't aware could ache. But it felt good to move my body, to exert myself and to sweat. And I want to get stronger and faster, so we'll continue to climb.

One day, we might even tackle the great outdoors.

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