Now, I was never a hardcore climber. I have never climbed an actual “rock” but I did frequent a rock-climbing gym down in South Jersey. And I had a great time whenever I went. I got pretty good at it, too. I got myself up to climbing a 5.8, though I pretty much plateaued at that point. But it was something that I was proud of myself for.
Like I said, I’ve never been very physical in nature. I played soccer and baseball when I was seven, but I was terrible at those sports. Like, seriously, really bad. My lack of coordination and skills at sports is probably a couple of the reasons I never bothered with sports. But when my friends introduced me to rock climbing almost 6 years ago, I took to it with a passion. It was a way for me to work out and not have to worry about looking like an epileptic.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to imply that it doesn’t take skills to go rock climbing. It does. And that’s the reason I never got past climbing a 5.8. (For those of you who don’t know rock climbing terms, a 5.8 refers to the Yosemite Decimal System, a way of grading inclines for climbing. Anything lower than a 4 is basically walking or hiking, and a 5 or higher is rock climbing. The 5 class is broken down to designate difficulty of climb. The scale goes up to, as far as I’ve seen, 5.12, but usually, 5.10 and higher are broken down even further, added a, b, c, etc., with each extra difficulty.)
One of the toughest things about rock climbing is the first climb. I’ve never been a fan of heights, so when I hit the wall for the first time, I felt a bit of vertigo. Hanging twenty feet in the air was enough to make my head spin, and I was only halfway to the top. I gave up on that climb, and eventually gathered the nerve to try again. Pretty soon, I was trying walls and climbs that I thought I never would.
What I liked most about rock climbing was the workout. Since it takes so much upper body strength, I managed to work out my triceps, and for once in my life, I was proud of the way my arms looked. My biggest regret is that I have lost a lot of that muscle tone since then.
You’re probably wondering why I don’t stop complaining and join the gym again. Well, it’s a monetary reason, you know. I had a membership to a rock-climbing gym and, for the most part, I got my money’s worth. But life sprang up, time became sparse, and I went less and less. In the meantime, I lost some friends to accompany me. Rock climbing isn’t something you can do by yourself. Though there are quite a few friendly people that hang around the gym and are willing to belay your climb, I find it more comforting to go with someone I know and trust. Even though my friends have dropped me a couple of times, they have only done that because they are assholes and has little to do my trust in them.
I’ve pretty much decided that when my money situation settles itself, I will take up rock climbing again. I can probably find someone to go with me. My girlfriend isn’t into climbing, but maybe I can convince her to just stand there and belay me the whole time. If you’re interested, and live near Trenton, NJ, check out Rockville Climbing Center. The people there are really nice and they have some great rocks and a good climbing environment. Unfortunately, I know of no other rock-gyms, but a quick Google search will help you to find one close to you. I recommend everyone try rock climbing at least once in their lifetime. It can be a fun and rewarding experience.