Friday, January 13, 2012

Fridays with Bri: climbing at Vertical Reality

Spider monkey in the light

Fun, challenging, active, a little bit dangerous, and scary. When I am looking for an activity to do, I am always trying to fill most of these criteria and so far the one I've found that fulfills them all is rock climbing. Vertical Reality Climbing Gym has given me an outlet for this sport where I am able to take out my frustrations, problem solve, and stay active; it also allows me to get my heart pumping if I take a fall...

Taking a break on the wall
My rock climbing career started about 4 years ago. I must disclose that so far I have only climbed indoors, and when I say 'career' I mean that I attempt to go once a week with incidental long periods of no climbing at all. However, when I first walked into Vertical Reality on a whim four years ago and looked at the amazing setup at this gym, it was impressive. The friendly staff and the people climbing there were really encouraging...I've found the climbing community to be a friendly bunch. I have made a point this year to stick with my goal of climbing once a week. This sport has given me a way of relaxing and fully putting myself to the test, physically and mentally. And best of all, I have an amazing sense of accomplishment when I complete that specially hard route. It doesn’t take long to start to feel the effects: since DecmeberI have started to feel physically better and I have been thinking more clearly.


nice heel hook
There is basically two types of climbing: indoors and outdoors. I am focusing on the indoor aspect for my personal practice. While at the rock climbing gym, there is typically three types of climbing you can do: top rope, lead, and bouldering. Top rope is characterized by a rope tied to the top of the wall, and you follow the artificial route of manmade handholds while your partner holds the rope for you from the ground. In lead climbing you are 'leading' your rope up the wall, so you have to reach between your legs and pull the rope up to clips as you go; there's a rope down to your partner for safety, but really you're relying on fastening yourself to clips attached to the wall every few feet. And lastly, bouldering is done in a bouldering cave: indoors, this is a manmade cave with manmade holds laid out in routes marked with coloured tape. There's tons of padding on the ground, so when you fall you’ll land safely. This type of climbing has no safety rope, but you're never more than about ten feet off the ground. Bouldering can also be done outdoors, in caves or on the faces of rock bluffs.

My typical trip to the gym is for a bouldering session; it requires the least amount of equipment, just a pair climbing shoes (and usually a chalk bag), and you don’t need a partner. You can even rent the shoes right at the gym. The climbing session is usually an hour or two, and I love it. The focus on detail challenges me mentally; the strength it takes to lift yourself off the ground at weird angles challenges you physically; and your flexibility is put to the test as you twist and turn your body to reach that next hold. Most people have gone to a regular gym, but this type of workout is so dynamic that it's an incredible change of pace...I find it similar to yoga, and almost meditative. The video bellow shows how the movements flow together, The routes are laid out using tape, so look for the orange tape as I climb, though many new climbers ignore the marked routes and just grab anywhere they can. In the vid, I climbed back down the route just so I didn't have to jump down, but usually I'd pull myself up onto the top ledge.


Jordan frogging it up
Another great thing has happened in my climbing career: Jordan has started to climb with me. This has been a lot of fun. I getting to spend extra time with her; she gets some really great cross training for her pole dancing. She also gets to see me show off my muscles, which distracts her as she works through her fear of heights. This is a really fantastic part of climbing, especially in indoor climbing, because you can choose your landing and the height that you climb. Jordan has been improving very quickly, going from a mewling cat stuck 2 feet up a tree, to an amazing tree frog (that still goes no more than 4 feet off the ground, choosing to just climbing horizontally around the cave). These challenges and steps are the most amazing part of climbing and I know in a couple more months, after she takes her first big fall, she’ll be my amazing little spider monkey.
 When you decide to go climbing be warned you will fall, and as long as you follow all the safety rules you will not get hurt. Come a check out the Vertical Reality gym; on your first visit, you’ll get a safety lesson and all the gear you need to be safe. If you already climb, check out the Vertical Reality Climbing gym and say hi when you see me there; I’d love to work on climbing with you.

I look forward to meeting you on the rock…

A video of me falling from about 10 feet

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, I have never tried climbing but now feel inspired :)