I need to climb

Before I left Seattle my good friend over at Eat, Climb, Love taught me to climb outdoors.  If she didn’t have a life I’d try to climb with her every weekend. Well, actually every day but who wants to sound creepy? She’s gracious and fun, and super talented on the rock. When I get my residential school started I’m DEFINITELY going to try and recruit her to teach. 😉

I’ve wanted to become a bad ass climber for years. In fact, I bought myself a climbing carabiner years ago as a reminder. I used (and still use) it for my keys as a constant reminder to go climbing.  I don’t mind climbing indoors. It’s fine. My interests, however, are in outdoor climbing. I don’t want the safety of mats. I don’t want colorful handholds adorned with pretty tape. I want Mother Nature’s knuckles ready to bust me on my head or extend a friendly hand. I want to look down and see her bosom eagerly awaiting my impact.  I want to climb mountains like I did trees as a kid. When I’m done with that, I want to mountaineer.  Climbing Mt. Kilaminjaro has been on my “Do Before I Die” list since Semester at Sea in 2004.

I am fortunate to have been awarded the NOLS Gateway Partnership Scholarship. It’s helping pay for a 30-day Outdoor Educator Backpacking and Whitewater Canoeing course in Yukon Territory, Canada.  This will help me accomplish another of my goals which involves me mastering the art of maneuvering whitewater.  It will improve my skills as a practicing educator and enable me to sharpen my water skills. I would love, Love, LOVE to take a NOLS rock climbing course as well. During my search for rock climbing intensives I’ve yet to find a program willing to take me out for 10 or more days a time to focus on my climbing techniques. I’ve even been looking into classes offered at climbing gyms just to get practice.  The problem is, I no longer own a car, and any climbing gyms in or near where I live in Georgia are 6-10 miles away.  There’s also limited public transportation. I have to walk 4 miles through serpentine suburban roads with no sidewalk to get to a bus stop. It’s complicated and dangerous.

I feel restless because now that I have the time to dedicate to improving my work, I don’t have the resources. If any of you have any ideas as to how I can make any of these things happen please share with me.  In the meantime, I’ll keep doing research and keep my fingers crossed that I get the NOLS Southwest Fellowship applied for. There may be an opportunity for me to learn climbing in Arizona, and that’s just badass.

5 thoughts on “I need to climb

  1. You sound like a Seattlite.

    Do you have a bike? It’s a far cry from rock climbing, but it works your leg muscles, and does wonders for cardio fitness. When you can’t get to the crag, or even the gym, a bike is much better than nothing. Ride up hills, sitting and standing.

    Gym classes can be helpful, but they’re limited. And climbing in a gym is worlds apart from the outdoors. Like you said, those colorful, obvious holds mean you aren’t having to decipher the sequence of moves that will get you to the top of the route. You aren’t even doing friction holds, you’ve got these little shelves. Still really good to be moving up a vertical surface, just don’t fall into the trap of thinking “I climbed the hardest route at the gym, I can free solo this rock formation…” 😉

    I’m sure there are crags in Georgia, although I’ve got no idea how far they are from you. If you can get yourself to popular climbing areas, you’ll probably be able to get yourself invited onto somebody’s rope.

    • I do ride my bike, but haven’t used to build muscle specifically. It’s been more of an endurance builder and transportation device than anything. There are some great hills in my area that are perfect for training.

      I love the idea of going to a crag and seeing if I can get invited onto someone’s rope. Also, just going to watch and learn sounds good too. Thanks for your advice, it’s appreciated!

      • I’m a fairly new climber. I had taken a class a while ago at the gym, on how to build top rope anchors and how to rappel. I’d learned to rap earlier from some guides, and done it, but wanted a refresher course. The next day, I went out to the crag to do some rappelling.

        I built an anchor, untangled the new rope, and felt a bit nervous. I’ve done this before, but never alone, and never trusting my life to a system I built myself. I thought about going off to find a climber and asking them to double check my work for me.

        This older guy walked over. He said he was playing on a different crag and saw me untangling the rope. Said he was out here climbing solo, and thought “there’s another person who loves climbing, but can’t talk his friends into doing it!” He checked my anchor, went down to the bottom, and gave me a fireman’s belay while I rappelled. We climbed a bit, did more rappels, and had a good time. So we exchanged phone numbers, and generally climb together every other week.

        I’m not an especially outgoing person and don’t really like approaching strangers, so I wouldn’t walk up to somebody and say “hey, want to belay me?” But if you go to a place where climbers are, and are obviously passionate about climbing, magic can happen. Good luck, and have fun!

        (Also if it doesn’t, you can still have fun rappelling on a cheap rope, doesn’t even have to be dynamic.)

  2. “never trusting my life to a system I built myself” that made me laugh pretty hard because I totally get it.

    I love this story though. I can be outgoing…it just depends on the situation. I think putting myself out there when it comes to climbing would definitely be a stretch. I’m willing to try…well… we’ll see. 🙂 I think my best bet is relying on the other guides with whom I work to teach me. I lead canoe and backpacking trips and there are often rock climbers in our ranks.

  3. Pingback: Intentions of your Practice – CavemanDAD

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