Jøhnny Fävòrítê (johnnyfavorite) wrote,
Jøhnny Fävòrítê

the reluctant athlete, part four

The latest installment of my climbing stories. There's not much in this one that's likely to offend, I think. Originally posted to USENET on January 10, 2003.

My cousin's birthday was the day before our new official "climb night," now designated as Thursday. So I got her a carabiner, ATC, and a harness. The only additional gear she'll need is shoes.

I guess I got kind of spooked about my last gym excursion. I wasn't sore at all afterwards and never got scared. Of course it was because I had to be the responsible one, since it was my cousin's first trip, but it still wasn't pleasant, feeling like I'd hit a plateau. I didn't want the fun to end! So this time I tore into it with a vengeance. I picked a middling 5.8 as my first route and nearly killed myself getting up it. I tore the hell out of the back of my right hand and I can't remember how it happened. And I didn't even make it all the way to the top, I was too tired to make the last two moves.

I'm getting to be a good enough climber that I usually have two options for getting past a tricky spot: I can do it the right way or I can cheat. The right way always takes longer, may require backtracking to reach a tenable position, might force me into an awkward leg-cross that triggers my (now mostly dormant) fear of falling to my death, or all of the above, but it doesn't consume much energy. The cheat usually involves making a wild jump for a hold that's officially too far away and then pulling my entire body weight with my hands up to the next stable position. If I'm really unlucky I might have to do it with only one hand, using the other to keep myself from falling. Yes, if I get sufficiently adrenaline'd up, I can pull my entire body weight with one hand for short distances. Needless to say it often tires me out nearly to exhaustion and I have to rest at the next position. All too often I can't think of the "right" way to do it and am left with nothing but the cheat.

I went to the gym Wednesday night for a climbing meeting. It was held on a platform that's on the "second" "floor" of the building, at the top of some stairs. It affords a perfect eye-level view of my favorite four-foot bulge in the wall near the ceiling. And damned if that same 95-pound 22-year-old slip of a girl I wrote about in a previous post wasn't trying to get around it, exactly as she was the last time I saw her. She still can't climb over it but that hardly matters, she looks so fetching in the attempt, hanging there by her hands, trying to find a place to anchor her feet. Made it pretty tough to pay attention to the meeting, let me tell you.

I've set myself a goal: I am going to climb over that bulge, dammit. I made my first attempt last night. It looks utterly impossible from the ground but turns out not to be quite that bad once you get up there. The wall goes up perfectly vertically for 20 feet or so, then there's a 90-degree angle and the bulge juts out three feet, then there's a 45-degree angle as it makes its way to its farthest point away from the wall, the full four feet, and then it's vertical again. Last night I got my feet planted on the last two holds on the vertical part of the ascent, got my left hand on the first hold over the bulge, and jumped for the second hold. I got my hand on it but not firmly enough to get a grip and I found myself swinging at the end of the rope. Just as well I guess because I would have had nowhere to go after that. I would have been swinging by my hands, unable to do anything else, in the same position that little slip of a girl always gets stuck in.

It dawned on me this morning when I woke up that I'm probably going to have to throw a leg over that hold I was trying to grab with my right hand. I can't see how else I can possibly get enough leverage to get all the way over the bulge.
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