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When I told my friend Kim I was thinking about taking a rock climbing class, she got all excited because she’s very into it. She was even having a group to climb at The Cliffs in Long Island City to help celebrate her birthday and I should join in. Yeah, didn’t think she’d take me up on that so soon. I was toying with the idea, thinking of putting it off for as long as I could. Nope, on Sunday morning, bright and early at 9 (!) am — okay, 9:15 am — I walked up to these doors and entered.
Luckily, Kim was there when I walked up to the front desk. After I ‘signed’ a waiver on the iPads attached to the wall, I paid for my day session at the gym, climbing shoes, chalk, and a harness. I wasn’t sure if I’d need it, but I felt it was better to be prepared.
Rock climbing shoes should fit tightly and be uncomfortable with your toes hitting the front of the shoe. Somehow that is better for gripping, no clue how but that’s the idea. In a weird way, they reminded me a bit of jazz shoe.
We started out bouldering, which means climbing a wall using only the hand holds, no rope. I got about a foot off the ground before I freaked out, calling to Kim, “I can’t do this. I need the harness and rope so I can feel more secure.”
Placating me, Kim took me over to the other rock climbing wall, the one that had ropes hanging off it. The wall I climbed using the harness wasn’t as tall as the one in the picture above, and I almost reached the top. The best part of using the ropes was getting down. You just let go and bounce your legs against the wall as the other person lets the rope out.
Actually, that you have to let go to get down from the wall is a great metaphor for life, or at least my life since I have such a hard time in letting go of things. Same here on the wall. It took a few minutes, probably just seconds, before I trusted that Kim and the rope would be holding me. Then I landed on the mat.
More of Kim’s friends showed up then and we watched her Boulder.
The mats at this climbing center reminded me of gymnastic mats, huge and cushioned. We were doing the purple boulder climb, labelled V-0. At The Cliffs, they mark their routes for bouldering with a V and the regular rock climbing ones with a 5. Zero is the easiest, pretty self-explanatory.
And guess what? I climbed all the way to the top of the boulders! Somehow having all Kim’s friends there and cheering me on, I was able to make it to the top.
Decision made: not my thing, but glad I did it.