Rock climb: the prep

In my “Time to earn your pay” post, I wrote:

I got to my desk and I thought of a first step. I’m going rock climbing.

What I didn’t then say was how this was going to happen. My first thought was to figure out who I might already know that would have a clue about how one gets into rock climbing. I have no idea how it’s done. I’d probably end up looking in the phone book for rock climbing gyms. At the time, I didn’t even know if there were any in town.

The first person who came to mind is Brad. He’s really the only ‘extreme sport’ guy I know, so I thought he’d perhaps be able to offer some suggestions on a course of action. He did far more than that, and my first indication was the beginning of his reply to my query:

You picked the right guy

And did I! He’s been climbing for years and has even travelled to climb in various places around North America. Further, he likes to take new people out and has multiples of all the required gear. His reply to me could be reduced to, “I’ll take you. When do you want to go?” It’s fantastic to know good people who are so damned nice, isn’t it?!

Over the course of the next day or two I asked all sorts of questions and got an idea of what I was in for. As much of an idea you can get without going out and standing at the base of the rock wall you’ll be climbing, anyway. The day we agreed on was today. This morning, to be more specific.

I was excited about it all week. I’d be putting my plan into action and doing something completely new.

At the same time however, I didn’t really know what to expect. The place we were going is good for beginners, but it’s still 15 metres (50 feet) of rock to climb. I was deathly afraid of heights when I was a child. I was still deathly afraid of heights when I was in my twenties. Then, in 2000 or 2001, I agreed to help a friend paint her house. It was an old farmhouse, two stories high with a tall gable. Before I knew what I was doing, I was at the top of an extension ladder, painting the gable, at the equivalent of the third story. Not only that, but I was reaching out to the sides as far as I could so I wouldn’t have to climb down, move the ladder, and climb back up as often. At the top of the ladder, I stopped, and looking down I thought, “I should be afraid…so afraid that I can’t do this at all.” Then I went back to painting. It was quite a realization. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the fear was entirely done, but it had at least receded to a remarkably significant degree. I didn’t know where my limit was.

Would I be afraid during the climb? I didn’t know. This made me want to go even more. Brad told me he’s taken about thirty people for their first climbs at the very place we were going. Less than half made it to the top on their first attempt. Many did make it on second or subsequent tries, though many others did not. Some went on to embrace the sport with enthusiasm while others did it once and were happy to have done it, but weren’t interested in doing it again.

I had some idea of what to expect from the climb, but really no idea how I’d react or what I’d feel, until the day came and I tried my mettle…

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