Climbing in the dark

I went back after a long time to do Yoga yesterday when I noticed a flier – “Climb in the dark for Halloween”. I imagined the climbing holds would be coated with glow in the dark paint, and lights would be turned off. Every trail would probably have a unique color. But I guess that is not a scalable plan considering how many people do show up to climb.

Well the event was today, and the solution they had was something much simpler. Climb with headlamps. This was the first time I was wearing climbing shoes after the accident, and they felt shorter than I remember. The first climb was quite tricky; I had trouble spotting holds, especially the smaller ones to support my feet with no lights on. In one of the climbs, the holds were in tan color like the wall, and there was a light yellow trial right next to it. I had to take my time to figure out the color of the holds before moving forward, and this made the climb pretty hard. Ran into a similar problem where a black and a blue trails were right next to each other and it was very hard to spot the difference in the dark.

Over the course of the night a section of the gym lit up and an ambulance showed up. Not sure what exactly happened, but a few paramedics walk in. Nevertheless climbing continued in rest of the gym. And oh, the fun part was there were a lot of costumes. I think I spotted a Khaleesi mid way through a trail, and I saw atleast 2 Harley Quinn’s walking around. By the time I got to my sixth climb the wrist that I injured while biking started hurting, and so I stopped after finishing this trail. Midway through the climb, there was an announcement and then the lights came back on.

This was a completely different experience. Climbing by itself can be quite challenging and fun. Adding the dark element with the headlamps, costumes, and the staff walking around dressed fancy and giving us candy was definitely an interesting and fun twist. Made for a fun Friday night.

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If you look closely, you’ll see people on the walls

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That’s the best selfie I could take

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Strap on headlamps

Progress

Not that I am a morning person, but all the coughing woke me up early. It was a Saturday morning and no one else in the house was awake. As I had nothing better to do, I went up to Planet Granite (PG) to do some Slo Flo. An hour or so later, I was feeling kind of chill and relaxed. I guess Slo Flo worked but I wanted to be a little more enthusiastic and energetic at the start of the weekend. So I went looking for a belay partner, and like in the recent times I couldn’t find one. This has been happening quite frequently lately, so I made some contingency plans for when I can’t top rope. I go to the beginners bouldering wall and do all the trails there. I came near the wall and was putting on my shoes when I heard an announcement asking for a belay partner. Yay, I could climb!

I have 4 favorite trails in PG. 3 of them are 5.10b’s, coincidentally all of them being white trails and one is a 5.10c. While I did them multiple times, I still find doing them hard, so I keep going back again and again. The thing about these trails is you can’t get away with strength, but you also need to find your balance and have good technique. And as I found out this is key for trails 5.10c’s and above. While I did my first 5.10b over a month and a half ago, since then I did only 3 different 5.10c’s. I failed getting off the ground on most 5.10c’s so I kept going back to the my favorite trails, trying to improve my technique.

Coming back to the present day, we warmed up on one of those 5.10b’s and I saw that it got noticeably easier. On the belay partners suggestion I tried a 5.10c, and I could do it fairly quickly, and this was the same trail which I previously did but struggled a lot on. I was now feeling climbing good. With this new found confidence, and some encouraging words from the new partner, I tried a 5.10d for the first time. It was a purple trail, and quite honestly I thought I would completely embarrass myself and wouldn’t even be able to get off the ground. While it was tricky, surprisingly I managed to finish the trail and I took only 2 very short breaks. Finally, first 5.10d. Yay! Later I tried one other 5.10d, a black trail this time, and as the partner put it, it was more about body positioning. Something at which I was terrible at, but after a lot of breaks I did manage to finish the climb.

Shortly after my partner had to leave, so I went back to the bouldering wall. I skipped the V0s and V1s as I was already warmed up, and did 6 of the V2s. The 7th one was the trickiest one. It was a pinch hold. While I was getting to the top, I was loosing my balance and falling down before I could touch the finishing tape. In one of the attempts I think I barely touched the tape, but was not able to hold on. This was something I did earlier, but I thought I was getting tired. So I tried to do a V1 and when I miserably failed at that, I realized I need to go back home.

2 days later, last night I went to PG to do some Vinyasa. Later I did a black 5.10b, the hardest 5.10b I did till now. And after that I managed to do a green 5.10d, my toughest climb till date. My hands were so burned at the end of it, I couldn’t remove the knot on the rope anymore. Later I also did the purple 5.10d I did on Saturday. As they say in the climbing world, you haven’t really leveled up unless you do the same level on 2 different days. So, progress!

And as I was about to leave, I tried the pinch hold V2, and I guess there was still some energy left in my arms, it wasn’t hard anymore.

 

It never gets easier

One of those late days at work, and I missed climbing with the usual suspects the day before because of the same reason. So when the clock showed 9 pm, I figured I can climb for at least 90 mins. The gym was super crowded, and as my luck would have it I couldn’t find a belay partner. This never happened, even when there were a lot less people in the gym. This meant I had to do the next best thing. Bouldering!

I warmed up with a few V0, V1 and V2 trails. Then I crossed paths with the V3 that I did before. There where a bunch of people in front of the trail; they were taking turns trying to scale that and all of them were failing. I did this a bunch of times till now, and I was warmed up. I was sure I would be able to do it, so once they left, I gave it a shot. I failed. Then I tried again. I failed again. Then I tried again and again, and I kept falling off repeatedly. This went on for the next 15 mins or so. I was not sure why I was not able to scale it this time and it was frustrating. And again as luck would have it I did not have a phone (my phone broke two days ago and I have been off the mobile-grid since), so I couldn’t see how I did it the last time.

While I was staring at the trail trying to figure out where I was misstepping, I saw a lady step in front of the same trail, examine it for a few seconds, and started climbing it. She looked like she knew what she was doing, so I paid attention. I realized my mistake. While I was dropping my left knee to reach to the next sloper, I was not doing the same with my right knee. Astonishingly stupid because I did the same thing a bunch of times before and in the last 20 mins it never hit me that I was not doing that.

I go back on the trial and this time I tried what I just saw. I could finish the trail, and it wasn’t even that hard. After climbing a few more trials I was ready to leave. So I was changing my shoes, thinking about how I made an ass out of myself and making a mental note to do this V3 when I come back, I noticed a small tag stuck to one of the walls which had this quote

It never gets easier. You just get better.