Wednesday night, in the pouring rain, I drove the hour+ to Bremerton to the climbing gym.
Everyone there was compact, lithe, muscular, slim. I felt like I stood out, at 280 lbs. But I was not about to let that stop me.
The other student in the class was Rick, who looked like he was in his early 20s. He was smaller than me and also quite fit. He said he was shipping out in a few days, for 6 months, and planned on climbing with his buddies while deployed.
We spent 1/2 an hour in a classroom practicing knots and learning the equipment.
Then we headed to the wall. They gave me climbing shoes in a size 13. Right right foot is about 13 extra-wide, and my left foot is about 1/2 a size bigger. Ow! But we didn't have a lot of walking to do.
Rick and I took turns climbing the wall on an easy path. I was glad to be able to climb to the top each time. I weight 70 lbs more than Rick; I wonder if he coulda done it with a 70lb pack? Sure, I'd like to be 210 lbs, but I'm also proud of having the strength to climb this wall anyway.
When I was climbing, the instructor strapped Rick down to the ground so I wouldn't pull him in to the air. Heh.
We eventually switched to a different area with a more difficult climb. Near the top it tilted back to a slight overhang. By this time I was too tired, and didn't even have the energy to try the hanging part.
It was fun and exciting stuff. If there was a wall here in town I'd consider climbing there periodically. I wonder how well balanced it is as an exercise? Seems like it hits a lot of muscles, but some more than others, and that it doesn't encourage flexibility.
On the way home my hands were shaky and my arms tired. I slept very hard the next two nights.
When I was about 11 years old we went climbing in summer day camp. My fear of heights was quite strong then, and I didn't want to do it, but felt pressured to anyway. We didn't have nearly the equipment that I saw the other night: no harnesses, no belaying devices.
When rappelling, just had two ropes: one tied in to a harness shape around my waist, led up to a belayer at the top of the cliff, who was tied to a tree; one rope around his waist, led down to me. I was supposed to let me rope out a bit at a time as I walked down the rock face. As soon as I stepped over the edge, I slipped and fell and was very, very scared. I worked my way down in deep fear. At the bottom both hands were purple from gripping the rope.
So next week we all go back to the climbing gym. I'm hoping Julie will come and climb a little, but who knows.