You know you’re having a lucky day if you hit your Walmart desk with your Walmart rolly-chair five times and still nothing falls off. Not even the gigantic blue mug of elaichi chai.
So, Elizabeth and I finally pushed one another out of the house, onto the metro and into Upper Limits. We weren’t sure how it would work out considering neither of us knows/remembers how to belay very well but it turned out well for us because that gym had auto-belays. And they were situated very conveniently near the 5.6 to 5.8s. All you have to do is clip on twice and then climb up.
Seems easy enough. And so I started the 5.6 and it truly was simpler than I had expected. The ‘rocks’ were spaced at easy intervals and they had nice upward curvy corners that provide good grips. About 20 feet up I started to feel a little scared though. Not because I was tired or the climbing was hard – no, it was just a thought that casually came and perched on my shoulder like a parrot. “You’re going to fall and break your leg, ankle, knee,” it squawked into my ear. Yikes. “Liz! I’m going to fall and die!”
“No, you won’t. The rope’s got you, it’ll just bring you down,” Liz said conveniently grounded.
“You’re going to die, the rope’s too thin, you’re going to break your arm, elbow, nose!” the parrot wouldn’t stop squawking and my heart was pounding harder, my hands getting sweatier which is never helpful on a climbing wall, my mind flew away with rationality sitting on top of it, waving at me cheerfully. I didn’t notice, of course, because I was busy panicking. “I don’t know what to do! I can’t climb further up because that just means I’ll fall from a greater height!”
It was like standing on a tightrope. Or being told to jump off a plane without a parachute. Granted it was not as high but the panic was similar. Flashback to my first trekking experience: 8 kg backpack slung across my happy shoulders, feet snug in good-looking tough Diggers, a blue cap on fat head, and a narrow, snaking dirt path going downhill with a fall that would probably break more than leg, ankle, knee, arm, elbow and nose.
The panic that swept over me like a 10-foot-wave and would have probably swept me over the edge had the little Pakhtun angel not descended with a comforting hand to help me move.
Of course up there on the climbing wall there were no angels descending but thank god for Liz.
“I promise you won’t fall! Just let go a little bit!”
I didn’t agree but at least I managed to overcome my panic enough to just climb down. Finally, I had my feet firmly planted on the ground.
“I guess my fear of heights took over a bit.”
I let Liz take on the 5.7 first and then I tested it out. Climbed halfway up and came down to make sure the rope would hold, and it did and it was kind of fun. The auto-belay really doesn’t pause and it brings you down as soon as you let go of the rocks. And it brings you down at a steady, quick pace. I always wanted to hang from the rope part of the crane and this is as close as I can get – unless I was a log or a cinder block I suppose.
It took me a couple of tries but I finally completed the 5.7 and it felt so good! The most annoying part was that my hands would get sweaty really fast. And then I sort of had to find a comfortable perch and hang on with one hand while I would reach into my chalk bag with the other and then repeat.
We took turns climbing and cheering one another on and although I didn’t conquer the 5.8, I managed to climb two-thirds of it. It had a tricky part where you had to sort of go at an angle. I do think I need to push myself more, stretch my limits a little more.
All in all, it was so much fun. So much better than my last climbing experience! I hope we can go again this Wednesday – despite the fact that our bodies feel as if they’ve been rolled down a rocky hill. I have a series of bruises on my knee and my arms, ribs and strange parts of my body ache. Introducing me to all these muscles that usually just lie there unused. Like new shoes you need to break into and before you do, they cut up the backs of your ankles like mad little chipmunks.
Although I’m still drinking milk I haven’t gone jogging in two weeks! I haven’t been lifting weights either. Terrible. But if we go climbing on Wednesday it would make up for my slacking. It would also be amazing if I can manage to climb all of that 5.8…