CityRock: Don’t Forget to Clip-in


I was invited a few days ago to go to CityRock tonight with a group and climb. My first instinct was to say ‘no’ because I don’t really like groups, but then I remembered these were really nice people and I needed to make friends.

Then yesterday I got bombshell news concerning my divorce and our next court date (I’ve been divorced for 6 years, yet it seems we’re always going to court). This news was pretty devastating, and I knew I’d be very occupied for the next few weeks, so I might as well have fun tonight.

Another reason I wanted to go: There was a guy I’d met at a 14er Happy Hour who asked if anyone was climbing at CityRock on Friday.  Without thinking I let him know a group of ‘us’ would be there.  He messaged me back to make sure it wasn’t a ‘family’ thing, and said he’d be there too.  That kind of obligated me to go.

It’d been a busy day so I didn’t get there until 5:30pm. Immediately I noticed the bouldering wall didn’t have any climb holds.  I guess they’re re-doing the wall.  I was glad I’d successfully climbed that V3, but I was a little disappointed I couldn’t actually show anyone in person tonight.

Jen and Tim were there, and they introduced me to a bunch of their friends. I’m sorry, but I don’t remember who was who, but I’d recognize you if I saw you!!!  I did a few auto-belays, and Tim belayed me a few times.  I wanted to go over to the lower bouldering wall to get in some practice before my arms got too tired.

As I was heading back down to the climbing area I heard a girl shouting: “Mom!  Mom!  Mom!”  She was about 14 or 15 years old, and at the top of one of the climbing runs.  She was frantic, and realized once she’d made it to the top of the run she’d forgotten to clip into the auto-belay!  She’d free-climbed all the way up to the top, and had no way of safely getting down.

This was a very scary situation, and one I never actually thought I’d see: There are signs all over the place asking you to check to make sure you were ‘clipped in’.  This girl was definitely in danger.  She was at least 50 feet up, and if she fell no one would be able to catch her.  Several people wanted to climb up and help her, but if she fell she’d take them down with her.

She was scared, and having difficulty holding on to the wall. She tried holding on to the rope next to her, but that didn’t really work either.

Luckily CityRock had a solution: They clipped a carabineer to the auto belay and released it up to her.  She was able to clip in and climb back down.  She climbed back down, and didn’t jump (I don’t blame her).  Everyone let out a sigh of relief when she made it back to the ground.  I couldn’t believe how shook up I was, and I wasn’t the one at the top of the wall without security!

The adrenaline rushing though me didn’t let up for a good half an hour, and it wasn’t the good kind of adrenaline, but the kind that wipes you out. I continued to climb, but without the enthusiasm as earlier in the night.

I saw the guy who said he’d meet me there. He climbed a 5.12, and was super proud of himself.  Since I hover around 5.9-5.10 I was proud too!

One thing I learned tonight I really don’t understand is that it’s ok to take breaks while rock climbing. I don’t mean it’s ok to just stop, but you can push yourself away from the wall and dangle for a bit and then resume where you left off.  This seems like cheating to me.  However, I guess it’s how a lot of people successfully ‘work the wall’.  I’d feel better about myself if I did it without ‘falling’.

After climbing we went to a taco place downtown. It was small and there were a lot of us so we had a 30 minute wait.  The tacos were good, but the party was split up so it was kind of like I was coupled with Tim and another couple.  The conversation was good but not really what I’d been looking for.  The tacos weren’t all that great either.  Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t bad, but I’m into this ‘trying new things’ thing and they didn’t have anything that looked good enough to try, so I stuck with the carbonara tacos (pretty vanilla).

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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