Saturday: 28.October.2006

First Rock-Climbing Trip (to Joshua Tree National Park)

Returned from my very first rock-climbing trip (to Joshua Tree, see yesterday's entry for details) .. safe-n-sound. But totally exhausted. So tired I could lay down on the ground and fall asleep (tho I didn't).

Got scared at a tricky part near the top of a 5.7 route (~80 or 90 feet up), and when the adrenaline wore off, I was spent.

I heard Tom call out from below, "Your left hand needs to be where your right hand is." His words echoed thru the canyon, cuz he was standing so far below.

And I thought, "There's no way I can do that." And I was burning lots of energy just staying where I was, looking for a way out, getting weaker by the second. So I had to do something quick.

I made it, but it took everything I had. I was shaking afterwards. I even drew my first rock-climbing blood on that climb (which rock-climbers call a 'gobe'). I cut back of right hand, jamming it in a crack.

today's entry continues here

He was extra nice, even bought me my own chalk bag (black, $25) .. claimed it was a "climbing tradition". (I think he just made up that story.) I tried to give him money for gas, but he wouldn't take it, saying, "I was going anyway, whether you came or not."

They drove out of their way to pick me up at my doorstep (and dropped me off at my doorstep).

His wife came along, too, who's an accomplished climber in her own right (on the cover of a French climbing book). He met her rock-climbing. And Tom's 6 year old daughter (from a previous marriage) also came along, but played more than she climbed.

What surprised me most was how good his (new) wife was with his daughter. Very attentive & affectionate. At the dinner table afterwards (we ate at a place called the Crossroads), when his wife & daughter went to the rest room, I told him, "She's really good with your daughter."

"I know," he nodded, taking another bite. "I mean, she not just faking it," I said. "She's really good with her."

"I know," he repeated, more emphatically. "That's why I married her. She spends more quality time with her than her mom does."

My favorite part was when they let me clear/clean a route they set up (removing fall protection), so I was carrying all the cool gear by the time I reached the top, where I felt and looked like a real climbing stud. =) Jingle jangle goes the gear.

They were very safety-conscious, telling me all the safety things they were doing on the various routes we climbed (much of which I didn't really understand).

Most impressive was to watch Tom climb a route rated 5.11b (three times) which he made look easy. I could get no where on that route, but they still encouraged me to try.

While we were at the climbing store (where I rented a pair of climbing shoes for the day), there at the entrance to Joshua Tree, a mom-n-dad brought in their 4-year-old and bought him his first pair of climbing shoes (Mad Monkey). He looked *just* like the bug, too. How cool to be introduced to the sport that young. Happy little kid.

It was hot at Joshua Tree today - 90 degrees (and desert-dry). We saw the smoke from the fires burning out there, but thankfully the winds were blowing the other way.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query > rock climbing joshua tree national park

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 28October2006