Three Friends

Three Friends
Three Friends

Saturday, July 21, 2012

So There We Were, Climbing the Walls ...

  And we had a great time!

At Earth Treks Climbing Gym  in Columbia, MD

Here I am (Spinster Beth) trying to look like I know what to do ... 

I don't remember the staff's name, but she was very nice, very helpful. We went on Open Climb day; the staff are available as belayers.

So easy! Of course, it was the beginner wall. 

I immediately bit off more than I could chew! I was supposed to put my foot on the piece under the stalactite, but I didn't trust my arm strength to haul me up. 

Tillie very quickly showed us how it was done, though! If she doesn't sufficiently brag about her wall-climbing prowess, I'll come back and tell you about it.

I followed Slick up this one. It was harder than the beginner one, but easier than the stalactite! 

All the way to the top! 

But this photo makes it look like I'm barely off the ground. Let me show you a not-close up...

Almost to the top! 

I went to a wall-climbing gym about 10 years ago, several times, to conquer my nervousness of heights. It worked -- I was not at all afraid of being so high up, after the first few minutes. I will say that forearm strength is a must for this sport. You can only rely on your legs so much!


I've (Tillie) always looked longingly at rock climbing walls at various events (Army recruiters like to have them as a draw for young men at fairs and festivals) but never tried them out. I can't explain why I didn't when I was younger, but as I got older, I almost always had a young child on my hip! But a few years back, the boys were invited to a birthday party at an indoor climbing center and one of the give-aways were certificates for a free climbing session. Three boys, three certificates. 

Did I say "years"? Yes. I had the certificates for about three years, just floating around from place to place on my desk. But they didn't have an expiration date, and so it made for a great girls' morning out. And I believe I have found my go-to-sport. I loved it. Loved it enough that some day I might even buy the shoes for it! Loved it enough to not balk at paying $20 to go again this coming Saturday.

I'll admit that before we started that first little "training" wall...
I was pretty nervous about the height. I had real difficulty with the jump (forward) when we went to a high-ropes course last year. But as I got to the top of the wall, and then made my way back down, it was much easier than I expected. Rappelling down backwards is much easier then jumping forward into thin air. 

The one climb that stopped me was a stalactite-looking thing. First I had to climb up a set of boulders stacked at the bottom. They reminded me of the blocks my kids make towers out of, only sturdier. Then there was a gap. So I had to reach waaaaaay up, grab the first hold I could, and hook my foot into a protrusion below.

It was awkward. I made it over the gap and then worked about half-way up before I couldn't find a hook close enough to get my hand over the top of. I tried jumping (thank you, belay-girl, for holding tightly as I missed!) for the next hook, but it was just too far beyond my reach.

After I came back down, she told me that one of the other hooks that had been closer was an "under-grab", in which I had to hook my fingers under the rock and pull up that way, using mostly forearm strength. Yikes! Next time, I will beat you, Stalactite! Or one day I will...

Apologies to Spinster Beth for semi-distracting the belay girl with questions. I was full of them - and might write a follow-up post about what I learned later on. 

For now, I await another adventure on The Rocks!

As this is a fitness blog and not a running blog, you would think I (Slick) would be more open for new fitness/physical experiences.  After all it is the experiences that make life great.  But when Tillie said she had some gift certificates for rock wall climbing, all I could think of is, please let it be a day I already have plans.  I am not afraid of heights, I am afraid of plummeting to my death. 

One of the reasons I have never tried rock wall climbing is because I am challenged…vertically challenged.  I come from a family of vertically challenged people.  It is very hard to climb when you are not tall enough to reach the lowest tree limbs.  Plus I am weak.  I can barely do push-ups, so how was I going to get my big butt up a wall.  Then I saw our belayer, we were the same height.  She said she has been doing this for a year.  She told me where to put my hands and feet to start and which colors I should be able to reach and as I keep telling my daughter, every time she tries rock wall climbing, to push yourself up with your legs.  These two theories worked out well for me.  I pushed myself up with my legs and I was careful where I put my hands so that I would be able to reach the next “rock.” 

Probably the biggest reason I have never done this before was that I had a huge fear of failing.  Not only in front my friends, but failing myself.  I think the main reason I went was to prove to myself that I could.  And it was fun, adrenaline can be very addictive.  Now I want to go white water rafting, who’s with me?


  1. So. Much. Fun! Don't know if I can get out there again this next weekend, but I'll be there as soon as I can get an hour away!

  2. It was indeed awesome. My triceps are sore this morning and my legs are bruised, so I feel that it was a good workout!

  3. Slick, white water rafting... you're on! LL Bean does stuff like that through the summer... maybe we can look there first. :) (Somehow the natural ww rafting seems less "scary" to me than the fake stuff at places like Six Flags. Go figure!)