Friday, January 16, 2015

Climbing Adventures: An introduction

Early in 2014 I took a big step in my climbing adventures by learning to sport climb.  I'd always been reluctant to lead climb.  When I first started climbing, years ago at Girl Scout camp, we top roped everything.  I never saw a need to do anything else.  I was having fun, getting up routes and improving.

But sometimes you have to step out into something new and a little more risky.  Luckily, it's also been more rewarding.  When you lead a sport route, you know that the rope didn't help you and you did it under your own strength.  You push through your mental limits and realize how physically strong you are.  You realize you can fall and that it's okay to fall.

My first lead climb was a ridiculously easy 5.5 (That's how climbing routes are rated. It's a weird system so I won't explain it but it goes from 5.1-5.15b with bigger numbers being more difficult).  Despite climbing more difficult routes on top rope, I was still nervous as hell. For my early sport climbing experiences it's been obvious that my fear is my limiting factor.

Second sport lead ever.  Also ridiculously easy but a more interesting route.

My biggest regret from my first season is top roping so many routes that were obviously well within my ability.  I am a pansy guys (less now than in March/April when these pictures were taken).

Obligatory Matt on a really hard route picture because this wall is so impressive. Matt wants me to attempt this route this year. It's a 45 degree overhang classic Red River Gorge endurance route. It's also a 12b. My boyfriend has a ridiculous amount of confidence in me.

Some Information on Climbing (if you're interested)
Lately, my hobby has been getting some mainstream media attention. After reading the comments (my eyes they burn) on the articles about the Dawn Wall I realized that most people don't know much about climbing.  So I want to give you a little information about climbing.

First climbing is broken up into a bunch of different categories but I want to mention free climbing  and aid climbing.  Free climbing encompassed both sport and traditional (trad) climbing.  Since I am a sport climber I am also a free climber. As you can tell from my pictures free climbers use a rope.  What free means in this context is that the climbers don't use ropes to assist our ascent up the wall.  We use the rock and our strength (flexes muscles) to move upward, clipping our ropes into bolts (or gear if it's trad climbing) for safety along the way.  Aid Climbing uses rope, daisychains and other equipment to aid their way up a route.  Neither of these are free soloing, which is when you don't use a rope for protection (Alex Honnold) is known for this and probably responsible for much of the current confusion).

Lead climbing is when you take the rope up the wall with you, clipping as you go but climbing above where you're clipped. Here is a random gif I found (there should be more climbing gifs guys) to shows you a girl climbing above where the rope is clipped in.


And when you fall this is what happens:

You have a longer fall than you would on top rope but the equipment and rope stops your fall. Magic!

Since I'm planning to post climbing pictures I thought I would give you a basic introduction.  If you have any questions feel free to ask me in the comments!  Like books, climbing is something I love to talk about if you're willing to listen. 

No comments: