Jun 2 2005
No picture, because I forgot my camera. I had put it in an obvious location so I wouldn’t forget it, but we had a power failure and when I left, the house was very dark, and that location was suddenly much less obvious.
Anyway, a trip report. I cycled to the climbing gym, Allez-Up, which is located at the other end of town, about 10 kilometres from our house. Because it was beautiful weather, 29 degrees and a clear blue sky, there were lots of people on the streets, on the terraces, and cycling, so I thought the climbing gym would be virtually empty. But it wasn’t, there was still a fair amount of people who preferred to sweat in an enclosed space instead of enjoying the fresh air outside.
Before I could climb I had to take a accreditation test to see if I could belay and climb securely. And for that I needed a partner. So I waited 15 minutes for my climbing partner but she didn’t show up. Then someone else also had to take the test and we used each-other as guinea pigs. I was quite nervous and even made a little mistake when I tied the rope to my harnass. They are very strict and I’m not against that, because it prevents accidents. It’s totally different than Dutch climbing gyms were I’ve seen people do rather unsafe things, and got a big mouth when I pointed those out to them.
First I had to climb an easy route and take a couple of surprise falls while my partner should hold them. He was a bit lighter than me, so I gave him a hard time, because he was almost catapulted into the air. But I wasn’t worried since the guy from the climbing hall was holding the rope as well. After that it was my turn to belay him and all went well. I hadn’t done any practising but the moves of belaying are imprinted in my body so it just went by itself. So I passed the test! My partner also passed the test but got some extra instructions to improve his technique a bit.
After that I waited for my climbing partner again. I hadn’t met her because we only communicated by email. She is a fellow member of the McGill Outdoors Club and posted on the mailing list that she needed a climbing partner for tonight. That’s how I got here. But if she didn’t show up, I had a problem, ’cause you can’t climb by yourself. And I don’t like bouldering very much (apart on real rock like Fontainebleau near Paris.)
Then somebody else that I knew from the MOC showed up and I asked him (David) with who he was climbing. With Natasha, he responded, and that was also the name of my climbing partner. Anyway, I located her, she was already climbing, and I found out where this confusion had originated from. She had several people calling her and had pooled us together. But then one person bailed out and Natasha apparently hadn’t read that email.
Ah well, we decided to climb with the three of us, David, Natasha and me, so that was not much of a problem. And since they had already climbed a route, it was my turn.
They advised me to climb a 5.7 in the corner. I had no idea what grade I could climb for several reasons. One was that I have never climbed in North-America, and only know the European (French) grading system. (Mmm, that’s not true, I have climbed once in a climbing hall in Portland, Oregon, but I recall that was a big disaster. Very hard routes and very small holds.) The other was that I hadn’t climbed in nearly 3 years or so, the last time was with Anne before she moved to Australia.
According to conversion scales I found online I probably should be able to climb a 5.7 though. So I stepped into the route and almost made it to the top. But then there was a step where I had to block onto a small finger hold with my left hand and that was just a bit too much for a first route. I tried twice but then had myself lowered down. I didn’t want to waste myself just yet, and my left wrist is a weak point anyway.
I’m not going to describe every route I climbed, this is already the longest post to date, but in general it went quite well. I need to develop a bit more finger strength, but I still have the technique. I climbed some 5.6s, some 5.7s, and even two 5.8s. Which was not bad considering the state of my slightly overweight body. The woodworking trained my muscles in the past year, I guess.
Okay, so I’m going to do this more often, and I also am going to climb outside, because I don’t like climbing on plastic very much, even though I built two climbing gyms in the past. (Here you can find some pictures of one of them, although it has been closed after bankruptcy three years ago.)
Another reason I don’t like to climb in climbing gyms is that people use Magnesium Carbonate to chalk their hands so they aren’t so sweaty. I use it myself as well, but this stuff gets into you nose and really dries out your membranes and causes a stuffed nose. I had a really bad night because of that.
And now my arms are still sour, but not as bad as I feared. I mean, I’m still able to type…