The last time I went climbing at an indoor wall, I think I was 13. I remember being called “Spider” by my classmates and loving it. Since then, I’ve only climbed a handful of times and they’ve all been outside on real rock.
Some friends of mine go climbing every week at an indoor gym and they convinced me to join them last week. Now that it is pitch black after work, I don’t meet up with other cyclists several times a week and I find myself missing that camaraderie.
We checked in at the front desk, got changed into our comfy clothes and very uncomfortable shoes, and then I had to do a belay test. All the gyms make new clients do one to be sure that they know what they are doing and won’t let the person climbing on the wall fall.
Then we were off. We warmed up on the bouldering section (no ropes and a much shorter distance to fall) before heading over to the wall. I stuck to the easy stuff (routes are clearly marked and labeled at most gyms, 5.5 being the easiest and 5.15 pretty much impossible for most humans) since I hadn’t gone in such a long time.
I did remember some rules that helped me a lot.
1. Keep your hips close to the wall
2. Use your legs as much as possible. They are bigger muscles (and due to all the cycling I do, pretty strong) and take longer to tire out than your arms.
3. Don’t stop moving. If you need to hang out, tell your belayer and they can support you while you hang in midair. One of the easiest ways to get tired is to stay in a precarious position while trying to figure out what to do next.
We switched off who climbed and who belayed for a couple of hours and by that time my hands could barely untie the rope from my harness and my legs felt shaky. I took that as a sign that it was time to head out!
Surprisingly, I wasn’t really sore the next couple of days. My fingertips felt odd from gripping the holds, but that was pretty much it until I noticed a bruise on either hipbone. I couldn’t figure out where they had come from, until my boyfriend pointed out I might have been keeping my hips a little too close to the climbing wall. Oh well…