Had my first climbing class last night. The place I go to has a featured outdoor wall with overhangs and optional lead climbing areas that’s at just over 70ft. I haven’t done any climbing in over three years, when I was back at the U of Alaska. When I lost my belay partner, I spent five days a week bouldering, and I loved it. But all of that climbing was pretty much freeform — I only ever did a quick certification test, and the wall itself was pretty basic; only about 50 ft or so of flat concrete wall peppered with handholds, tagged with routes. There was a shorter tilted wall banged out of wood that simulated an overhang, but nothing fancy.

This time around, I’m doing four classes of actual instruction over four weeks, then switching out to a regular 1-2 per week climbs for the rest of the summer. After that, I’ll need to decide if I want to join the indoor wall downtown or quit for the winter, as the outdoor wall closes Oct 1st.

It’s funny how much you forget about climbing. In my case, I had a belay partner in AK that I trusted; we were buddies, and by the time I managed to get to the top of the wall, we’d been climbing regularly for a couple weeks. This time around, I was in a class of newbies, facing a 70 ft wall that definately wasn’t flat.

I got about 15ft up before that heart-pounding terror hit me: funny, how I forgot the terror part. There was a newbie on the other end of the rope, and one instructor, and he was busy flirting with the little girl who couldn’t figure out how to tie a knot. I got bunched up at that point, and sat back, rested a bit, let myself hang on the rope to assure myself that no, really, falling is mostly safe. Then I started back up.

I’ve got a lot of work to do — I went up twice, and only managed to get halfway up both times. My body just wimped out on me and broke into violent muscle shaking at the halfway point. I forgot, again, what an intense workout climbing is. And here I was thinking that all these boxing classes and bike rides were doing me some good. Ha. Climbing uses totally different muscles.

I have a long way to go. And it’s a fun journey.

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