Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scaling New Heights

One of the hardest parts about packing is having to go through everything you own and decide what you will keep and what you will get rid of. In my particular case, I have to decide what can go (don't need), what must come to Ireland with me (immediate need), what needs to be sent to PEI with my parents (will need it when I get back), and what can be sent down to Boston to be stored at my grandparents' house (may not need it in the coming year but will need it in the future).

One thing that has been giving me great pause has been my rock climbing gear. It's just a basic set of harness, shoes, chalk bag, and belaying equipment. I started climbing in January 2007 and was going quite regularly (once or twice a week) for about a year and a half, which then became much more sporadic as my health deteriorated, and finally dropped off altogether. I haven't been on a wall in over a year, I think, and it's something that I miss doing. My equipment should still be good; harnesses ought to be changed only every five years even if you don't use it that often. So I was toying with the idea of selling my stuff online so I would have one less thing to deal with. After all, I haven't used it in ages.

But I couldn't seem to make myself do it. I just really want to get back into climbing, and I don't want to have to buy all new equipment when that time comes. I won't be bringing it to Ireland, certainly, and a quick Google check tells me that there are no rock gyms in PEI. But there is one in Des Moines (as well as a couple of judo clubs in the area), and if I can find a climbing partner and my schedule works out, I'd like to get back into it again. So I think I'll file this under "stuff that can go back to Boston for a while" and then see what happens.

People will say to me, "Wow rock climbing! That sounds so cool, but I'm scared of heights." Guess what: I am too. That's why I started climbing in the first place. I can be kind of bull-headed in terms of attacking problems head-on, but it's partly due to my being a rather indecisive person. Taking the direct route gives you less of a chance to fumble and skirt the problem and back down. My first time on a wall I got about 10 feet up and I froze and started to panic. But I knew that if I went down then, I would probably never try it again. So I kept going, made it to the top, rappelled down slowly, and practically died from nerves once I hot solid ground again. But I did it. And I kept doing it.

The thing with climbing is, while I really like it, it is not something you can just show up to a class to do, like judo. You need your own partner, someone whom you trust, but also someone who you work well with, who doesn't mind the pace at which you climb, and whose schedule matches yours so that you are both free and energetic to climb at the same time. My good friend Steve, whom I introduced to this fine sport, is a very high-energy guy who likes to go climbing at 9am on Saturdays when the gym is empty and who will climb 2 walls in the time it takes me to rest. I like to do slow, easy walls, taking lots of breaks on my way up, and not hitting the gym until the afternoon so my body has time to wake up. I also couldn't go in the evenings because I was always dog-tired after work, and the bus schedules at night meant that I wouldn't get home until 10 or later on a school night. Steve and I, while good friends, were not good climbing partners. A lack of a steady partner was one reason why I dropped off after a while.

But like I said, I would like to get back into it. Judo this year has helped me be able to push my body to the limit while still recognizing that it has limits, and they are different from what they were before. So hopefully I won't be so quick to drop out when I go through a physical rough patch. I will be saving my climbing gear. Maybe this time next year will find me on a wall again.

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