Climbing Wall

There is a climbing wall at our local mall. I've seen it a number of times. But it was always closed.

But Saturday evening was different. It was open. I watched as a few people tried going up the wall. I must admit I was a bit intrigued. But was it childish to want to try? Was I scared I'd like it too much? Was I just scared? I am good at talking myself out of things.

But last night I got talked into trying it. I was interested enough that I didn't say no. So I signed the forms, put my jacket in a locker and let them help me put on a harness.

The rock wall at the mall has two sides, and two different heights. There is the side opposite the offices next to the escalator, that is vertical. The side towards the office varies from a little shorter and easier looking on the left to really hard with an overhang on the right-most course. There are about 7 courses on each side.

I tried one of the easier ones on the left to start with. One of the two on this side that is about 5 feet shorter. I found myself scampering up pretty quickly. I got a little nervous and felt my heart rate go up. But I finished going up to the bar that the belay rope wraps around.

I've done rock scrambles without ropes before. Not quite the same as doing a climb up this rock wall, but similar in a number of ways.

After getting to the top, the idea is to repel down. Well, I was okay in theory with this. But the practice made me very nervous. I had to lean back into the harness. I had to trust the harness, the rope and the person belaying me. It took me a bit to get my nerve up to letting go and leaning back. Probably at least 30 seconds or so. At first I walked down a little. Then I bounced a bit, but mostly kinda walked down.

I took a little time to appreciate what I had done. I also took a little time for my heart rate to settle down a bit.

Then I tried the next harder wall. This one went all the way up. Again I went up pretty quickly. At one point I realized a young boy of about 5 was watching me through the glass from the foot court. I turned a little of the way around and said hi. Then I turned back and went the rest of the way to the top.

This time I had less hesitation about repelling down. I walked the first few steps, then bounced a bit going down. The people there were very encouraging.

I had one more climb I could take. I decided I was ready to try the next wall. I waited a little bit to try to catch my breath, but I didn't wait too long.
This wall looked like it had even more handholds than the previous.

But the looks were deceiving. While there were more handholds, they were not the same as the two previous walls. The first two walls had handholds that were good for feet and hands all the way up. But this next wall had a large variety of handholds. And not that many were good for holding with your hands. A lot didn't have insets to hold and so were small and curved so they were not good to hold, and not even very good for foot placements.

But I managed to work my way up a bit at a time. Going was much slower, because I kept looking for solid handholds for both hands. One point I wound up pulling myself up by my hands, without having a foothold for either foot. This got some praise from the people below.

But I felt my heart rate really going up. And my hands and arms were getting really sore. I went up a tiny bit more. The people below said I could take my time. They had me with the rope. They suggested that I could just shake off the cramping.

But I decided I'd had enough. I might be able to push myself a little further, but I thought I'd just wind up slipping off. And I didn't want that. So I asked to be let down, and repelled down. I felt a little bad that I didn't make it up the 3rd time.

But as I was rubbing off the soreness for the next few minutes, I realized something. Not only were my arm muscles still a bit sore from all that work building the cage less than a week ago, I was also fighting a cold. That explains why my heart-rate was higher than it should have been. My heart-rate always goes up a bit when I'm sick. It was pretty obvious that I was pushing myself a bit trying the third wall.

But it was exciting. And a bit fun. Will I try it again? Probably. But not likely too soon. Will this make me want to try it on real rock walls? I must admit there is part of me that is tempted. But there is part of me that is pretty conservative that way too.

I've always liked climbing. I've been known to climb up structures and building a bit more than I should. But climbing rocks sounds like taking a bit risk. But it can be a fun risk. I guess I am undecided.

Hmm - I bet I could get some really fantastic pictures if I took my camera rock climbing!


Atomic Bombshell said...

I say go for it... Life is short and you only live once. Sounds like FUN to me!

Anonymous said...

Very cool. I'm intrigued also, but I guess a little chicken.