365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

Fast Forward 2

This is the name of a class my climbing gym offers. It’s a three week class that starts to teach climbing technique and strategy and basically open up your climbing abilities. Squeaks and I signed up for this class and tonight is the first night. We’re both very excited about it. When we joined the gym about 18 months ago we said we were going to sign up and take all these technique classes and try and get better faster. Of course, that didn’t really pan out (for lots of reasons) so we’ve been climbing on our own and teaching ourselves stuff from reading magazines and watching other climbers.

Tonight we’re starting down a path of actually taking some classes, learning a few things and getting to practice them with an experienced instructor who can offer coaching and feedback throughout the session. The woman who is teaching the class is someone we’ve seen around the gym a whole lot and she’s a great climbing… I’ve actually seen her climb some really hard stuff using only one foot (she’d injured her knee and couldn’t put any weight on it). It was very cool to see how strong and graceful she was and most of that came from having really really good technique and knowing how to move her body properly on the wall.

Squeaks and I have done pretty well for ourselves these last 18 months, but most of what we’ve learned came from watching and guessing and trying to mimic what other people were doings. We’d gotten a few verbal tips and suggestions from other climbers but most of what we’ve been able to do has been self taught. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done some amazing things and learned a lot this way. But I think we’ll both benefit a great deal from being able to take a class where they are focusing on a specific set of skills designed to improve your climbing ability. Even if we spend the next three weeks perfecting stuff we already know we will have gained a great deal from it. Theory is one thing… practicing on your own can lead to bad habits that can be hard to break. Getting some real instruction and coaching over the next week can only serve to INCREASE our knowledge and abilities and I for one am very much looking forward to it.

There are basically four tiers to the “Fast Forward” training series at our gym. We’re intentionally starting at Tier 2 because we HAVE been climbing for some time and want to make sure we’re starting in a place where we’ll be challenged and learn a lot of new things but that is maybe a bit less advanced than we THINK we are. The next two levels after this one get into some really challenging technical stuff and I want to make sure we have a really really good foundation for moving forward. Plus, even though we’ve been in the gym for a long time now we’ve never taken any classes and the instructors may not know us and may decide to deny us access to the higher level of classes until we’ve taken all the pre-requisites. Fast Forward 1 is some really basic wall contact technique that we’ve mostly figured out already so skipping that one and going straight to level 2 seemed like the best use of our money.

So, as I said, class starts tonight and runs on Tuesday evenings for the next three weeks. I will try and offer a report every Wednesday about what we learned in class the night before and how that could change the way we climb. And, as I sit here writing this post I really wish it was 6pm and we were on our way to the gym. Definitely excited about the class and generally just loving that it’s Tuesday – which means it’s a climbing night!!

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Climbing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Red Rocks

Sitting here writing this post on the plane home (to be published later tonight of course) I can’t help thinking about the completely totally amazing day I had today. Today was my last day in Vegas… except we didn’t spend it in Vegas. No, we went out to Red Rock Canyon for some simply amazing climbing.

After dancing for 2+ hours straight at the conference client appreciation party last night I bailed on the after party in favor of a few hours sleep before the 4:30 am wake up call. Yes, 4:30am. There are very few things that will get me out of bed at that time of day – especially when I’ve been sick all week and will only have had about 4 hours of sleep. Turns out I could have gone to the party because I didn’t sleep much anyway. I was too worried about not waking up and being late to meet the girls I was climbing with.

When we all met up in the lobby at 5am you could see that none of us had gotten much sleep. We all seemed rather low key and definitely in need of breakfast. But as we got out of Vegas and started to venture up into the desert canyons the mood shifted to one of pure excitement. You see, this was the first REAL climbing trip Squeaks and I had ever taken. Our other friend ST had been out to the canyon a few days earlier and RAVED about how great it was. When we started to plan this trip people thought we were completely insane… I mean who climbs in the desert in July… Yup. we do.

As we got closer to the canyon and ST started telling us more about where we were going and what our guide (Dan) was like we started to just get more and more excited. By the time we’d hooked up with Bob the guide and gotten all our gear organized we were just bouncing off the rock. The hike to our climbing destination took about 15 or 20 minutes and included some decently difficult scrambling up the sandstone. It was so beautiful. We were just awed and getting even more anxious to get set up and get on some rock.

We were all flying back to DC about 2pm so our plan was to climb from 6:30 until 11:30 and then head straight to the airport (about a 45 minute drive), change clothes and jump on the flight home. Sounds like a crazy plan doesn’t it… again – we were climbing in the DESERT in JULY and then planning on sitting on on plane for 4+ hours (without the assistance of showers in between). But we’re climbers and there was no way in hell we were going to miss the chance to experience some real rock destination. I mean, Great Falls VA is cool and all…. but I am afraid the stakes (and expectations have now been raised).

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about climbing out here. I mean, I struggle with 5.8’s and 5.9s in Great Falls and the destination we were heading to was made up of all 5.8’s and higher. I thought for sure I’d struggle with it. But you know what… it was just so incredible to be out there that you stopped thinking about the grade. It was so easy to block it all out and just enjoy the experience. Like with all climbing I’ve experienced, there is just the peace that settles over you as you start up that wall. The girls I was with are rock star climbers and Dan the Guide was a fabulous guide, coach and instructor. He encouraged us, taught us stuff, and was just cool and fun to hang out with. Climbing by itself in such amazing scenery is enough to say the day was a stellar one… but the goofy photos and the laughing and the camaraderie made it a perfect experience.

Now that I’ve climbed in Red Rocks, I really want to make sure that I can plan at least one trip to some incredible US climbing destination every year. It’s re-energized me to push harder and get some leading classes under my belt. It’s also reminded me that 90% of my struggles in the gym are purely me spending too much time in my own head and getting in my own way. After climbing three 5.8’s (twice), a 5.9 (twice) and even a 5.10 in the desert in July with a 30 year climbing veteran telling all of us we’re great climbers and that we’ve got great movement on the wall I think I can jump up a grade or two in the gym and push myself over some really hard stuff that I’ve been letting hold me back recently. Definitely lots of new goals set for the second half of the year.

Oh, and by the way, climbing in the desert in July is really really really hot and you should never ever ever do it… Leave that to us hard core girls that can hack it 😉 (ok, really it’s about 75 in the shade and you don’t even break a sweat because there’s just no humidity to speak of, but shhhh… keep that between us ok).

Pictures to come later this week as soon as I’ve collected them all.

July 15, 2011 Posted by | Climbing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment