Climbing To New Heights

What do a handful of intrepid Seniors do on a wet and rainy February day?  We plan an outing to the Toronto Climbing Academy to learn the ropes about wall climbing.

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After the all important liability waivers were signed, we were taught how to put on our harnesses, and secure our climbing ropes.

We practiced proper belaying techniques to *spot* each other while climbing, and then we were finally allowed to try the auto belaying system – relying entirely on the equipment, rather than each other.

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With sweaty hands and shaking limbs, we challenged the wall and ourselves.  It turned out that the hardest lesson we had to learn was actually letting go of the wall so the belay system could gently drop us back to the ground.

The key word there is ‘gently’.  Let’s just say my first couple of trips down the wall were less than graceful.  I was grateful for the soft cushiony flooring.

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Yes, that’s me nearing the top of the 27 foot wall.

Each of us at some point clung to the wall, unable to let go.  One person in our group had to eventually climb back down because she simply couldn’t trust that the belay system would catch her.

With the gym virtually empty except for our small group, we were able to climb as often as we wanted, trying sections with different degrees of difficulty.  We laughed, we gasped, we cheered one another – until we simply couldn’t climb anymore.

My hands and forearms ached from the death grip I had on each wall hold.

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Would I do it again?  You bet I would!

 

115 comments

  1. Whaatttt? How did I miss this!!! SO fun! I tried it once too and the same thing was challenging for me, the trust on another human factor and even more so having to be the one responsible for another human being at the other end of the rope. Felt too much like parenting to me… haha.

    Great job. Love the photos. You are a star!!!!

    Peta

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    • hahahaha! … “felt too much like parenting to me” hahahaha!

      Doing something new and unusual – especially when it scares me a little – makes me feel so alive. I suspect I’m an adrenaline junkie and I don’t understand why others don’t want to experience that same ‘high’ … pun not intended 😉

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  2. Congratulations, Joanne! I’m impressed that you successfully embraced this challenge and would do it again. I would be the person who had to climb back down the wall because she did not trust the belay system. 😦

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  3. I love it: “Seniors” and “Wall-climbing” in the same breath!
    Wallclimbing/Rockclimbing has been something I’ve been fascinated by for a long time – I’ve always wondered if I have enough upper body strength to do it, and so have never tried. Maybe it is time.

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  4. How exciting!! We have a climbing gym here. All the others in the family have done it. I’m not much interested in it. Our gym has a bouldering section, auto belay section, and then a regular belay section. I don’t know if mine have done the actual belay (2 person required) section. You are much braver than I. I beginning to feel like I need to up my game! 😉

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  5. That’s fantastic Joanne! This is how my climbing stint of 15 years began, someone taking me to an indoor climbing gym. Isn’t it empowering to get to the top of the wall? I love that your seniors group did this. Climb on my friend, climb on.

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  6. WOOT! Mountain climbing is, by far, the most impressive thing I’ve done in my life. I mean that, lol, shhh, don’t tell my kids. I’ve never since faced such an incredible physical challenge with such an amazing high. Whenever I climb a wall, those same feelings all come back. It’s powerful. I can’t do a mountain now, because of my hands, but I can do a wall on a good, low-inflammation day 🙂 I’m glad you did it!

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    • Thanks Joey! Quite frankly, I would have preferred to stay home that day – it was raining and messy outside – but I’m glad I went.

      You hit the nail on the head. We can’t all do the same things – by either desire or ability – but the magic is in trying to climb our own ‘mountains’ in whatever form they take.
      I don’t want to experience life from a TV or computer screen. As I get older, my abilities are declining, but like you with your good, low-inflammation days, there is still lots I can try 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Woohoo; awesome work. I love the family joke about helmets and waivers! I’m waaay too scared of heights to try any sort of climbing, but I used to take the boychild and his friends to an indoor climbing centre, and spent lots of time watching (and belaying) adolescent boys having the time of their lives.

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  8. Like Teagan, my current weight would keep me from trying this. I tried to go up rope net a few years ago and about 8 feet from the top I was physically spent. I realized then how little upper body strength I had but I did belay going down and loved it.

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  9. I’ve always been fascinated by wall climbing. I’ve never done it, and know of no place where one can do it, but your report on your adventure inspires me. I, of course being a klutz, would only climb about 5 feet high up the wall– but that’s not the point, is it? It’s just the doing that makes it worthwhile. You go girl!

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    • That’s exactly it, Ally. At the beginning, it was a big sense of accomplishment to go 5 feet. On my first try, I fell off the wall on my second step – not even 2 feet off the ground. Gradually I got higher and higher as my confidence grew.

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  10. Good for you and your group for challenging yourselves. It looks like fun. I’m not sure I would be able to let go easily, I’ve watched others do it and I think that would be the hardest part. Way to find an exciting indoor activity.

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    • We’ve been having day after day of rain … and lots of it. I’m just grateful it’s not snow or we’d be shovelling for weeks.
      Finding interesting indoor activities can be a bit of a challenge, so this was definitely a change of pace for all of us 🙂

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  11. I’m totally exhausted after reading this Joanne. I can’t imagine what I would feel like if I tried to climb it (although a Twinkie taped to the top of the wall could motivate me) 🤣🤣🤣

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  12. That looks like such fun!!! Good for you for trying something new and challenging yourselves. I was an avid rock climber in my earlier years and walking backward off the edge of a cliff to belay down never got easier. But I loved climbing! Great fun and such an accomplishment. You go, girl. 🙂

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  13. Go you! Great activity for a wet and rainy day.

    Each year, we scheduled team building exercises with the AmeriCorps members on a ropes course at Salisbury University ~ “belay on” . . . “belay off.”

    My favorite was being in the harness, pulled up-up-up into the air where I could release the “rip cord” and F~L~Y!

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  14. No way could I do that now, my legs just won’t step very high any more. Figure it is probably a hip problem and darn annoying when trying to get over stiles!! Looks like a lot of fun.

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    • My back and shoulders were fine. Just my forearms and the outside leg muscles around the knees. I think it’s from the stress of over-gripping – both with my hands and feet.
      I’m the kind of person who holds on to a pen like a life-preserver, so it’s no surprise that I over-grip when I’m doing something that feels scary.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. That looks like so much fun, Joanne! I figured there had to be some place in Toronto for wall climbing. Glad to know the name of one such place.
    I’d only want to go on a day when the place is not busy (aka empty). Do you need to go with a partner or can you go solo?

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  16. Oh, you are so brave my friend. Years ago I thought about trying it but chicken out. I work with my hands (back then and now) and used the possibility of a hand or finger injury as my main excuse. I love to hike and I love to climb but rock climbing. I don’t have it in me! Kudos to you and your friends!

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