Hello! I’m checking in a bit later today, but hey, I have something fun to share with you!
After (somewhat) facing my fears of heights last night, I can officially say that I am at least one step closer to fighting crime as Spider-Man…
Or, at least that is what I felt like scaling walls and belaying from vertical distances yesterday.
Have any of you taken up the sport of climbing?
I always figured it would be challenging, but I never really understood the logistics behind how people can safely train to climb cliffs and mountains until my visit to a local climbing facility.
Planet Rock – Madison Heights
I have taken a stab at climbing rocks before, but never in the environment of a training center. Thanks to a killer deal on Groupon, Scott has been joining a couple of friends to climb over the last month or so. Like real rock climbing, minus the minor detail of actually being outside.
He always comes home from hours of climbing raving about his experience, all the while complaining of already being sore everywhere from his legs and arms to callused hands.
Wanting to see what all the fuss was about, I asked to join him in climbing this week and was ecstatic when Planet Rock graciously invited me to enjoy a complimentary starter package.
The closest I had come to rock climbing before my visit to Planet Rock was tackling a rotating rock climbing tread wall at my college gym. It’s similar to a treadmill for the use of running, and I thought it was perfect for someone like me who has a fear of heights.
You didn’t need ropes, harnesses, or special climbing shoes, and you could experience the art of climbing without having to get high in the air. That may seem lame to some, but to me, it was comforting and one heck of a workout.
That said, I was really looking forward to putting my big girl pants on and diving into climbing… for real.
Rock climbing is no joke, y’all. There are ropes, harnesses, clips, climbing shoes, chalk bags, and a variety of other equipment you need to get familiar with before taking a climb.
The shoes are made to run pretty snug, since you don’t want them sagging off of you in weird angles. Scott eventually purchased his own climbing shoes to avoid having to rent them every time, and he calls them his “Geisha” shoes. I get it.
As soon as I walked into the main lobby, I could tell that I wasn’t just going to be able to walk in and go for it. And rightly so!
First time climbers ages 14 and older go through a lesson to learn safety, knots, and belaying (how to hold the ropes) before climbing. This lesson takes about an hour and is given on a first come first serve basis.
For those of you interested in bringing children, it’s best to bring along a nonparticipating adult to help keep an eye on younger kids while adults are occupied. Children ages 8 – 13 participate in the first 15 minutes of the lesson to learn how to tie the knots, but kids under 8 do not participate in the remainder of the training.
It’s always recommended to arrive at least two and a half hours before closing on your first visit to allow enough time to complete the training and feel comfortable enough to get the most out of your first climbing experience.
The training floor was huge! There were multiple levels and different areas appropriately labeled to display exactly what you were getting yourself into.
There were also trails of tape to lead you from the bottom to the top with a clear (suggested) path to follow for a variety of skill levels.
With an environment filled with first-timers like me to national competitors, you have to be alert and on the lookout towards whatever might be happening around you. There are people belaying, ropes dropping, and climbers falling down at any given time!
My training group was considerably large, so it took us about an hour to get everyone through.
Here, we learned how to tie an 8 knot (surprisingly, I rocked at that!), numerous safety precautions, and how to spot and control the belays of someone climbing above you. It took me a few tries to get the hang of the things, but I eventually got there and passed the test of spotting the instructor. Woo hoo!
As soon as I felt ready to take on my first climb, Scott and a few friends of ours led me upstairs to what I deemed the “baby wall”, which even with a name like “baby wall” still proved to be a challenge.
This wall had progressively harder tracks to follow, but the biggest advantage was getting to feel comfortable with an automatic belay system first, before needing to tie your own knots and getting a friend to spot you from below.
My biggest mistake was taking my first climb all the way to the top. Looking back, I should have gone about a third of the way up, then fallen to see what it felt like. I mentioned above that I have a slight fear of heights, so it took some real motivation and coaching from friends to have me voluntarily jump back and fall to belay down.
I trusted the system, but it would have been smart to test what that felt like before I was 25 feet in the air! Needless to say, (after staying frozen, vocally expressing my fear of being up there, and actually climbing down a few steps) I eventually fell and it was exhilarating! Haha. I’m a bit dramatic, I know.
I have belayed before, but never had the task of jumping off of anything to do it. My falls have always been in control of professionals, so this was a totally different experience for me.
After just a handful of climbs, I could already feel the burn in my arms and back. I tried to use my legs for a lot of the climbing, and even so, my upper body was on fire!
Before we left, Scott and our friends had to complete a run on “the chimney”.
You start with one leg in front of you and one leg behind, then jump and shimmy up all the way up to the top! Crazy, right?
I quickly passed on that challenge and will revisit that maybe… never. Kudos to you, friends!
Overall, my first real rock climbing experience was a terrifying, but amazing one. As someone who doesn’t care for heights, I see rock climbing (especially at facilities like this one) as a great way to get over my fear. Little by little, visit by visit, I’m sure my climbs will become scarier and require more trust and skill on my part. I am really looking forward to the challenges ahead!
Thank you so much for having us Planet Rock, we will be back!
After climbing, the boys took us to one of their favorite nearby dinner spots for Mexican food. It was Scott and I’s first time visiting Mojave Cantina in Clawson, and it was just about a ten minute drive from Planet Rock.
The weather outside was beautiful, so we sat on the patio and ordered chips, salsa, and freshly-made guacamole as soon as possible.
I also might have ordered a skinny margarita, because… Wednesday night? #turnup
After eating an impressive amount of chips, I ordered the low-cal black bean & corn salad with chicken.
It was delicious, but didn’t even compare to the couple bites I took of Scott’s enchiladas. Yum!
This morning I realized that I never announced the winner to the Bombas Athletic Socks giveaway! Whoops. I do apologize for the late reveal, but CONGRATULATIONS to…
Entry #355, Erin Ellis!
You have won four pairs of socks and will need to respond to your email within 48 hours to claim your prize. <3
I have a feeling this was only my first of many visits to Planet Rock. If I’m lucky, most of them will also include a trip to Mojave for dinner, too. I’d say our climbing and eating adventure was a nice little mid-week treat!
All right, I need to get moving and onto work. I hope you all have a great rest of your day, and I’ll see you back here in the morning with Friday Favorites!
Questions of the Day
• Have you ever been rock climbing?
• What is one of your biggest fears?
Besides, heights, I have several other fears. I even outlined some of them in a previous blog post. One that might surprise you is my real fear of dark water… especially when it’s cold. I just can’t comprehend what’s under the surface, and the thought of something living actually touching me at any given time freaks me out more than a spider crawling on my face. Ahhh!