Saturday, March 21, 2009

Social Climbing

Ian and I went climbing at Stone Gardens today, for the first time in over a year. We stopped last spring because I just didn't have the drive to go (and of course I now know why), but I really love it, and I missed it a lot. But, rock climbing takes a lot of strength, both physical and mental, and it has just seemed a bit out of reach during chemo. During my time off this month, though, I determined I would go. One awesome thing about Stone Gardens is that we bought a season pass last January, and they let us put it on hold as of last March, even though I called and asked them to do that last May, so we still have 9 months to go of climbing. We were debating starting up our passes this month and our friend J, who works there, told us not to do that and gave us two free day passes. I mean, he understands. I'm not sure if I will be able to start climbing regularly yet, and we really just wanted to get a baseline reading on our strength. I figured I would be good for about 15 minutes the first time around.

In the event, we lasted 20 minutes, and Ian (bless his heart) was the first to say "Well, I think I could be done." My skill level (if not my physical conditioning) seems to be pretty much the same, at least on the VBs and the V0s that I attempted. The rating system goes from V0 to V10 (with VB at the beginning, presumably for "VERY basic") for bouldering (which is climbing walls up to about 10 or 12 feet tall, without ropes, or, in the wild, just climbing boulders instead of cliffs). We usually boulder. At the peak of my rock climbing ability, a couple years ago, I successfully completed one V3, could do a few V2s, was pretty consistent on the V1s, and mostly climbed 0s and Bs as if they were ladders. My goal is to become that good again. From what I can tell by watching, you have to be a monkey to climb anything from a 4 to a 7, and a gecko to climb anything from an 8 up. Note: for those of you who are concerned, the gym, around the bouldering areas, is entirely covered with foot-thick floor matting, with maybe twenty portable mats to add to a specific area in case of falls.

My heart rate went up pretty quickly, of course, and so I paused between climbs and took deep breaths, but my pausing wasn't noticeably longer than it used to be. My 10 or so successful climbs included a V0 with an overhang, which gave me the old familiar thrill of accomplishment. My hands got sore and a bit abraded, but not noticeably faster than my arms and back got tired. In other words, I seemed to have no particular issues slowing me down today, but rather a full-body capability-potential.

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