Rock Climbing Granny Part 2

A while back, I first posted about my rock climbing passion here. Since then, I had a birthday and realized “I ain’t gettin’ no youngah.” After climbing for over 10 years and admittedly being too chicken to get into lead climbing before, something just clicked when I hit a certain double digit number, and I thought, “It’s now or never.” Rock climbing can be a grueling sport, and it only gets harder as you get older. So I finally decided to take a lead climbing class and work on getting certified to lead climb in the next few months.

Cragmont Park climbing |

Starting a climb at Cragmont Park in Berkeley.

I have new friends who are more into outdoor climbing, and learning to lead climb would open up more possibilities for outdoor as well as indoor climbing. I had already learned the basics of how to clip in the rope for lead climbing, so I skipped the Lead Climbing1 class. But, I had no experience in lead belaying, so I signed up for Lead Climbing2. In the class, I met another Paula(!) who was even about my size (important as you will get pulled off your feet when your partner takes a fall on lead, and you don’t want someone disproportionately heavier or it will be very hard to control the belay.)

Lead Climbing 2 Class |

Clipped in and moving on to the next one!

Two Paulas Climbing |

The two Paulas waiting our turn while watching other teams.

We have partnered up to get our certification. Our first attempt last week failed miserably, but we are determined to make it next time. There were several factors involved in our miss. First off, we were both nervous, as the test route was harder than it looked; the first clip was higher than the top of the bouldering wall, over 10 feet off the deck! Neither of us boulder much, so being that high up without the safety of a rope is very nerve wracking!! There is the tendency to grip too hard, not relax, and work harder just because you’re not on a rope.

Second, a major factor of nerves/fear is the fact that we had not been climbing regularly together for any length of time before we took our tests together. We literally put our lives into a stranger’s hands whom neither of us had any idea whether to truly trust. We don’t know each other’s climbing styles, strengths, fear tolerance, reactions to emergencies, etc. We only very briefly climbed together in a 2-hour workshop, and not long at that, because we got switched to other partners by the instructor.

Top rope climbing is very dependent on finding the right partner, just like a marriage! OK, maybe not, but establishing this special trust takes time and interaction. So we are starting to climb regularly together now. We have a shared passion and determination to do this thing! We will be much better next time after we have gotten to know each other and whether or not we are even good climbing partners. So far, so good.

What are your passions? What goals are you currently working towards? Please let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Ciao! Paula