Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Something entirely different

Last weekend a friend mentioned he's been going to EVO Rock climbing gym in Concord on Wednesday. It is friend's night and I could try it out for free. Hmmm, I've always had a curiosity in climbing. There were two problems though. I'm an upper body weakling, and I'm deathly afraid of heights. Local midweek skiing is a bust right now, so I thought what the heck, let's try it!

First reaction entering the climbing gym was no f'n way am I going up that high! The walls were huge. There were numerous routes and areas, so the 40-50 people that were there were spread out all over. Steve gave me instruction how to tie my knot. He belayed for me. I'll get instruction next time to belay.

One corner of Evolution Rock and Fitness in Concord, NH

I started on a 5.6 route.  It took a long time, my forearms started to get noodly. I cleaned it though. At the top, I could not let go! Every instinct in my body said death surely awaits as soon as I come off that wall. You only look up when climbing, but when you reach the top, you take your first real look down. Holy freak out. Of course, Steve was cracking up. Eventually fatigue dictated I let go and let Steve belay me down. I was trembling just a little.

I tackled an auto-belay 5.4 climb next, which went pretty smoothly too. Still probably took me three minutes, while the others could do it in 20-30 seconds. Trusting the auto-belay again took a monumental leap of faith, as you have to free-fall a bit before the centrifugal clutch kicks in and arrests your fall.

I moved to a 5.7 climb next. This one stumped me right at the top and fatigue forced me to come off. Studying from the bottom, I saw there were a couple holds I missed that could have helped. I successfully climb two other 5.7 routes after that.

Starting one of the 5.7 routes

5.7 route

5.7 route

Approach top of 5.7 route

At the end of the evening, I stepped up to a 5.8 route. This one reaches a ledge where you can rest for a moment, but then to continue, you have to make a dynamic move out onto an overhang about three stories up. That freaked me out the most. Why would you jump out into nothingness? Still had weak faith in that rope. I grabbed the hold and was able to finish that climb.

Steve on the 5.7 route I came off. He later cleaned a tough 5.10a

My arms and shoulders were completely destroyed from just six climbs. I shudder to think how I'll feel when I get up in the morning. Sure was stimulating fun though. I was forced to contort my body in all manner of ways it hasn't move in years. Doing this regularly would have to do a body good. I hope to hike all of Colorado's 14ers someday. A few of those provide significant exposure. I just may have to go back to EVO for some more. At the very least, it could take the nervous edge off planned hikes and let me become more familiar with what I'm capable of.

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