Climbing Gym

I’ve been thinking about joining a climbing gym for a few
months now, but the closest one is about 30 minutes away from my house. 
It’s about $60 a month to join, which didn’t
seem too appealing since I just discontinued my actual gym membership.
  They did offer free yoga classes and one free
massage a month with the membership, which was really appealing, but I didn’t
like the distance.
  Plus if I were paying
$60 a month to climb I’d be there several times a week, which would mean an
added cost in gas as well. Did I mention I’d have to pay to park too? Ugh!
  But I really need to develop my rock climbing
skills for my 14er challenge:
  I need to
feel safer out there while climbing, and that’s only going to come with

So I did some research, and found a much cheaper option:  A ‘punch pass’.  I pay up front, get 10 visits, and can use
them for anyone I choose (I can bring a friend with me, etc.).
  I was trying to justify time for using the
pass when I remembered Thomas has scouts Monday nights directly across the
street from the climbing gym.
  Duh!  I could just go with him to scouts and while
he’s there walk across the street and get in some climbing practice instead of
sitting there at the meeting knitting hats.
Brilliant!  Why did it take me so
long to figure this out?

Anyway, tonight was my first attempt at this whole climbing
I’ve been to this gym several
times, but I’ve never actually climbed here.
I’ve always been a chaperone taking scouts or for birthday parties.  I’ve never climbed in any gym before, but I
have been rock climbing at Red Rock Canyon a few times.

Emily went with me. 
We dropped Thomas off at Boy Scouts and then walked together to the
  I bought the punch pass and we used
two immediately.
 They let us use a
harness and shoes for free (the harness is always free, the shoes were to make
up for the fact we had to fill out liability forms again).

It was Monday night at 7pm, and this gym was packed!  There were tons of climbers there!

I found the last cubby open to store our stuff and we put on
our climbing shoes and harnesses. 
when I’m attempting something new I stand around for a bit and watch everyone
around me to see how it’s done, but there were so many people I figured it was
best to just jump right in and find a place to climb.

I found an open area and attached the carabineer to my
This was actually a lot more
difficult than I’d thought it would be:
It wasn’t a simple push down and turn like I’d expected, and despite
trying my best I never quite got the hang of it.
  I was able to eventually clip in, but I’m
sure I looked like I had no idea what I was doing, even toward the end of the
night after doing it several times.

Climbing was much easier than I’d anticipated!  I made it all the way to the top in no time
at all, and was quite pleased with myself.
However, I wasn’t ready to just jump off and let the pulley carry me
down, so I ended up climbing back down the way I’d climbed up, and told myself
I was practicing because while outside I’d need to climb back down the way I
went up (yes, I was lying to myself, kind of).

OK, this was fun!  I
was actually able to climb to the top without stopping, and on my first
  I went to find Emily (she’d been in
the bathroom taking care of a bloody nose) and challenged her to climb with
  We did a couple of runs together,
and she convinced me to jump backwards and fall all the way down.
  From the top of a climb I took a leap of
faith and jumped backwards, letting the pulley slowly carry me back down to the
  It was actually quite fun!  Just make sure you’re actually secured and
clipped in first…

Now on to bouldering, because this was why I was actually
This scared me more than climbing
because I wouldn’t be clipped in.
again, this was easier than I’d anticipated, and I was able to quickly catch on
and climb up and over the wall(s).
went to take a break and find Emily.
was climbing the same area we’d been climbing before, and it was here I realized
  when climbing the walls you’re
supposed to stick to one color of holds as you progress up.
No wonder everything seemed so easy! 
I’m going to have to spend some time learning about different classes
(etc.) of climbing.

OK, so I felt a bit silly about my climbing optimism (no
wonder it’d been so easy!) and decided to try it for ‘real’. 
I took a few runs, sticking to only one
color, and while it was more challenging I was able to climb them all successfully
except one.
  I kept trying that one over
and over again, but instead of getting easier it was just getting more
  I was getting tired!  I knew what I needed to do, but my arms were
worn out.
  We’d been at the gym for about
an hour, and I’d been climbing almost continuously.
  Now even runs I’d done successfully earlier I
wasn’t able to climb.
  I told myself to
stop now because I was wearing myself out.

I went down the slide one more time (I can’t remember the
last time I went on a slide!) and we changed out of our gear.

All in all I learned a LOT tonight.  Everyone was pretty friendly, and even though the gym was packed it didn’t feel too crowded.  I want to eventually learn how to belay (including putting on the ropes, etc) and I need to get better at bouldering.  I think it will just come with more practice. 

Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

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