Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Solid As A Rock

You’ve got to have grit, strength and determination to make it in rock climbing. It’s not an activity to pursue if you are looking for a cake walk. Ladies with freshly manicured fingernails can say goodbye to those lacquered beauts and guys who have been playing in fantasy sports brackets more than they have been playing actual sports will have a tough time making it far. Indoor rock climbing may look pretty, with the rainbow of every-colored nubs sprinkled across the walls, but let it be known that it’s not to be taken lightly.

Have I scared you away yet? Not so fast!

While it is true that rock climbing is a very physical and challenging activity, there are a number of ways that indoor rock climbing facilities make it appealing to even the most skeptical of beginners. Everyone has to start somewhere, after all. Most of the time, the colored “rocks” I referred to earlier that are scattered on the climbing walls are that way because every different color represents a different “path” getting up the wall (this is not tried and true, but is very common). Like skiing, rock climbing has different levels of difficulty. Just like a skier wouldn’t dare hit up black diamond mogul hills on his or her first time on the slopes, a rock climber would never attempt to scale the most difficult path on the climbing wall on their first visit.

When I first went rock climbing (indoors), it was at the Ohio State University Adventure Recreation Center (ARC) when it was first constructed on campus in 2005. That facility appealed greatly to me because anything with “adventure” and “recreation” in its name will attract me like a bug to a light. As students, my friends and I were able to try it for free. I had no idea of what my abilities would be going into it, and of course had natural apprehensions about strapping myself onto a rope with a carribeaner and trusting my life with a stranger who was anchoring me on the ground below. I mean, anything where you have to sign a waiver certainly puts a bit of a lump in your throat.

But the staff at the ARC made me very comfortable with my experience. They ensured that what we were doing was safe, as anyone “anchoring” you had to be belay-certified (belay being the official term I learned for this act). Comfort also came in the form of seeing little 8 year old kids climbing around on the walls right next me. It’s then I was able to compose myself and laugh at the fact I was so worried.

The staff also taught me some tips and techniques that aided in my climb. For instance, many people would assume that rock climbing is entirely – or mostly – reliant on one’s upper body strength. However, it’s actually the opposite. When climbing, you want to PUSH yourself up using your leg muscles more than you want to PULL yourself up using your arms. However, believe me when I say, you will use ALL of your body in getting you up that wall! You will be sore not only your arms and legs, but in areas you didn’t even know you had muscles! You will utilize strength while climbing, but also agility, dexterity and flexibility. And some brains are needed to, as you decide what the best move to make is, and how to apply physics to the sport.

After my first time visiting the ARC, I was hooked. I loved the sense of accomplishment I received by scaling the wall, making it to the top, ringing the bell, and taking a look down to see how far I was off the ground! It’s a very rewarding feeling, and getting to ride down is like flying Peter Pan style down to the ground, so it’s totally worth it! Since graduating, I still try to make it to the ARC a couple of times each year so I can get that rush of adrenaline that takes over me whenever I make it to the top! I even made rock climbing at the ARC the destination of my 26th birthday celebration!

There are plenty of other facilities across Ohio that have rock climbing walls indoors so you too can hop off the couch and challenge yourself in a very rewarding way. I will post those locations in a future blog. And, naturally, there are tons of OUTDOOR rock climbing walls too – ones that lack the pretty colored nubs! I will be sure to write more about those soon as well.

OHventures will definitely tell you all you need to know in order to be SOLID AS A ROCK for your first of hopefully many rock climbing experiences.

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