Rock climbing is not a sport I ever considered as “up my alley”. Aside from a few field trips in middle school, I had no experience. So you can understand how I was a little unsure about trying it as an adult. I figured I was too short, weak, and ill-balanced to ever take it seriously. Much to my surprise, these were the things that would push me to give climbing a real chance.
My first climbing experience was at Rock Jungle Boulders. I rented the tight climbing shoes, chalked up my hands, and approached the wall. Guess what? I was short, weak, and ill-balanced. I got so tired so fast and could not wrap my head around how people could do this for hours on end. Despite the crash mats, I had a constant fear of falling. My feet always felt like they were going slip, which led to my arms doing most of the work. Then my arms were so tired I thought they would let go, resulting in another fall. My hands were so sore from the rocks that I had to take extra long breaks to give them a rest. I only got to the top of the wall a couple of times. I did not trust the wall. I did not trust my feet. I climbed, or rather attempted to, for about 40 minutes and then went home, exhausted. Yet, tired as I was, I wanted to do it again.
So I went back. And I felt short, weak, and ill-balanced for a long time. But each time I got myself back on that wall, I felt all of those things a little bit less. Ok, I’m still short…I’ve accepted that, BUT I no longer use it as an excuse. Your height does not define your ability to climb. You will get stronger. And your balance will become an instinct. It all just takes work.
I proceeded to take an Intro to Bouldering course. I needed to learn some technique and lingo rather than trying to muscle my way to the wall all of the time. And let me tell you, actually learning technique makes a HUGE difference! I wasn’t feeling short anymore because I actually learned how to shift my weight and hold each rock effectively. I didn’t feel as tired or weak because I was taught how to hold my body in a more efficient way. And my balance got incredibly better as I practiced my foot placement and body control. Climbing is not a sport you need to be incredibly strong to try. It just takes a few tips and tricks to make it easier.
That first climb was about 2 years ago. I won’t pretend to be an expert now. However, I am no longer afraid of the fall, and if I don’t get a flapper on my hands by the end of a session, I feel I didn’t climb hard enough. I learn by watching other climbers and projecting routes. I attempt problems now that I never would have looked at even a year ago. I look for rocks I suck at holding onto, like pinchers or slopers, and I attempt to use them rather then ignore them. I climb for myself without worrying about who’s going to see me fall.
Climbing can be a scary and intimidating sport. But it can also be an amazingly fun one! It keeps you working on yourself both physically and mentally. And it places you in one of the most accepting and loving communities you will ever experience. Rock Jungle has become a second home to me and I am so excited to share my experiences there with you.
So, if you have been considering giving climbing a try, I urge you you to do it. Get yourself into those tight climbing climbing shoes, chalk up your hands, and approach the wall. You won’t regret it.