('ello. I just started climbing this past weekend, and rydra_wong
asked if I'd cross-post this here.)
Yesterday, I got a phone call from two friends of mine. They were debating on going to either EMS or REI for climbing gear, and since I'd been making noises about possibly trying, did I want to come with? Since I was, at the moment, covered in dust from cleaning, doing anything else
sounded great, I said sure. And somehow, the intent of "just looking at climbing shoes" became "buying a pair of climbing shoes" which then became "also buying a harness kit".
I really should have seen that coming.
Anyway, while we were waiting in the store, one of them mentions going climbing tomorrow, and after some double-checking on our phones for the climbing gym's beginner class on weekends, he offers to shift back his climbing time so I could take the class. Which is how I ended up making a half-asleep phone call to the climbing gym this morning to register for said class. (The guy on the other end of the phone when showed up later was amused.)
I climbed a few times as a kid. The local YMCA had an indoor rock wall, and I took the class when I was about 10. I really didn't retain much. But I remembered loving it, despite, at the time, believing I was terrified of heights. I also remember that fear being the reason I took the class in the first place.
Something about that assessment, that I'm afraid of heights, never really quite meshed with reality. I love flying. I love leaning over the 2nd story porch and watching the sky. I'm fine running along scaffolding. When I need to clear my head, I go for high places and just sit and think, like roofs and roofdecks. But make me lean over a 20ft ladder to hang lights in a theatre, have me jump down 3ft from the last rung of a scaffolding ladder, put me on a dive platform 15ft over a deep pool, and I'm paralyzed. The last one is even weirder when I'm fine springboarding off of a 10ft tall diving board.
It was after my last knee injury, when I was nervous about jumping down 3ft, that I figured out my problem. It's not heights I'm afraid of. It's falling. It's leaping off with nothing to catch me but the ground or water. And with a bad knee that can't absorb impact as well as it should? That fear is just magnified.
Which brings me to the wall. I didn't get up to the top. I think I was the only one of the six in the beginner's class who didn't. And I forgot my knee brace, so when it was suggested on the first try that I put all my weight on that leg so I could get my other foot to another hold, I balked. Maybe I was wrong. But I didn't trust my body there. And I got tired because I made my arms anchor me and pull me up. But on each of my 3 tries, I made it halfway up the wall before my hands slipped or got too tired or I couldn't find a foothold for the precious few milliseconds I knew my bad knee would hold me while bent. I'm not a good climber because I don't trust my body. Yet.
But when I looked down, I was surprised at how far I'd gotten. And when I let go of the wall, I didn't fear the fall.