April 30, 2006.
I’m writing this very late blog entry on October 9, 2017, based on the memories I have from my first rock climbing trip. Some of the details have probably grown fuzzy over time, but the main ideas are firmly cemented in my brain.
I was invited to go to Rumney with a friend (a rock climber) and his climbing pals. I had never gone rock climbing before and quite honestly, I wasn’t that interested. It’s not that I didn’t like getting to the top of things, it’s that I enjoyed doing that under my own power. I had a sense of distrust in all the ropes, metal and equipment. I remember saying: “Why would I climb up this wall with equipment when I can just walk up the ramp on the backside.” Needless to say, they were not impressed with my attitude.
We hiked out to a tall rock face. My companions pulled out a bunch of gear and performed whatever magic they needed to do to commence climbing.
Once the topropes were set up, my friend got me into a harness and tied me into the rope. “Okay, go climb!” he said, enthusiastically. “What do you mean? What do I do?” I asked. I was terrified. What do all these things do? What happens if I fall? How do I get back down? I’d never been around climbing before and I had no idea how it worked.
I hadn’t even stepped foot in a climbing gym before. Presumably, these were not as popular or as ubiquitous back in 2006. I had no mental map of the systems. I remember feeling really frustrated and scared.
I climbed up, falling a few times I’m sure. My legs were shaking, my heart racing, my anger boiling up inside. Why am I doing this? I thought, I’d rather be hiking.
After I was lowered down I decided to call it quits for the day. I watched everyone else climb, with much less effort than I’d put forth. They laughed, rigged up other routes, and had a grand old time. I felt like I didn’t have a ticket to the party. I couldn’t understand what they were doing or how they could be having any fun. I sat there and stewed. Climbing is stupid. Hiking is more pure. I’ll just stick to what I’m good at.
Well, we know how that goes…