R and I went to Brooklyn Boulders last night. For his birthday, I had gotten him a membership, and we figured we’d take the Learn the Ropes course together for fun. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how fun it was going to be. If you recall from my Trapeze Class post, I’m pretty terrified of heights. But all in all, I had a great time.
I learned how to make the 8-knot, the double 8-knot, the fisherman’s knot; learned the language (Belay on! and Take! Take!!! — which means pay attention I’m coming down, which I said a lot); and figured out all the gear – the harness, the gri-gri, the shoes etc.
The other interesting part of it, is the trust. R was belaying for me as I climbed and it was not easy to let go of the wall or conquer my nerves. I had to keep looking down to make sure he was paying attention – and when you’re 15 ft up, you really don’t want to look down.
I also had the bad habit of climbing about 3/4 up the wall and then wanting to stop. Not because I was physically tired, but because I was starting to get intensely scared and I figured 3/4 of the way up was high enough, especially on my first day! Apparently, this attitude is not approved of in the climbing community. Whenever I stopped and was ready to go down, our instructer, Bill (who was absolutely great!) would just laugh me off and say yup, yup, keep going, to the top. And so damn him, I would turn back to the wall and very nervously, clutching for dear life, climb to the top. I did this 3 times. All the way to the top of the wall! I’m not a climbing prodigy or anything, I didn’t use specific routes or have to deal with inclines or anything, but it was incredibly rewarding to conquer some fears.
And it made me realize that in life, I reach a point and I stop. Fear, discomfort, what it is, it stops me in my tracks and I say to myself, well, guess that’s good enough. But damn it, it’s not. And I guess this is what people mean when they say you can’t do it alone, because if it wasn’t for Bill or R, I wouldn’t have kept going. Sometimes we have to ask for help to keep going.
It was a totally new experience — I’ve never done anything like it and it was really fun. If you’ve never tried climbing, I definitely recommend it. It can be pretty intimidating, but everyone — at least at Brooklyn Boulders — was really nice.