The one with THE BOSS

It was Wednesday; Sally really wanted to go climbing. I tried to resist as I was feeling very lazy and my wrist hasn’t fully recovered, but the force is strong with her. So we did end up going.

She finished her climb, and it was my turn. I was going around the gym looking for an easy 5.10a when I saw a familiar face. On taking a closer look, that did seem like a face I see every week. At work we see it every Thursday during TGIF. It was Larry Page’, for real. In the climbing gym. It was super exciting to see him up so close. He was not climbing though. Someone who was with him was climbing, while a staff member was belaying her. He was watching her climb. At one point Sally tricked me into climbing a 5.10b when we ended up on a trail right next to them. Half way through the climb I got really scared thinking what if the rope breaks and I fall on him. Talk about irrational fears and stuff. And yeah nothing like that happened. Phew!

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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.

 

The climb

On a good day when I think about rock climbing, these lines scroll through my head, almost always.

Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.

Now don’t tell me you haven’t heard these lines before. If TV were a god then that would be blasphemy. These lines are from one of the best monologues ever seen on TV. Want a refresher? Here you go

Anyways I am digressing; coming back to the real world, I have been climbing since a few weeks. Its exponentially more fun than going to the gym. Maybe I like it so much because I am new; maybe not. I like it more than running, hiking or horse riding. Not to mention it is much cheaper than the latter. In addition to being fun, it is also exhausting and probably more painful too. I have my hands scratched, legs bruised and shins chipped. Bandaids don’t really help, cause its all the more painful when you try to remove them. But it all seems worth it when you finish the climb.

Not to mention I am not even good at it. In fact I suck. I suck so bad that I failed miserably when I tried to do a new trail in the last two classes. Trail 5.10b. That was a sour grape. A couple nights ago, I went in again. I just got off a phone call; was feeling low, but determined. Then I tried again. I had to take a break on the ropes for probably half a dozen times, and I was loosing my grip before reaching the final rock, again and again, but I somehow managed to crawl my way up till the end. Then I did another one, and this time without any break. Finally, my 6th time rock climbing, 5.10b scaled! Margaret, the one who introduced me to climbing, she did her first 5.11a. That was pretty cool to watch.

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Its the green trail

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After she did her 5.11a

We went back climbing again last night. I wanted to make sure the last time was not just luck. I struggled, but I finished 3 other 5.10b’s. And Kiran did his 1st 5.10a and 5.10b. That’s two level ups in a night. Way to go buddy.

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This time its the blue one

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At the end of our climbing night

The next time its time for us to try out some 5.10c’s. Psyched!