Vertical life

The first weekend of the year was a thoroughly enjoyable one, with all three days spent on the wall. On Friday evening, Chuck and I checked out the brand new gym half a mile from my place, and we spent the next couple of hours exploring the rock walls. The climbing area, though tiny, offered plenty of challenging climbs, and happily, wasn’t at all crowded. Even more heartening was the fact that almost everyone else there was a regular from the outdoor wall at LPAC, so it felt like a community of sorts (of course, with the climbing community being so close knit, the flip side can also – and did – occur when one runs into ex-climbing partners which could translate into awkward “catch-up” moments…).

The next morning, I went back to the wall with Jeff, and hello, there were a couple others from the night before there again as well. I guess we’re all a little climbing nuts. But it was crowded, almost unbearably so, and after a couple of hours, we decided to bow out and cede the ropes to the dozen others waiting eagerly for their turn on the wall.

In the afternoon, I took the blessed opportunity for a bit of a lie in before I headed up to Guthries, a bar in the neighborhood that stashes a healthy collection of board games, for three different variations of Scrabble and a game of Stratego. Hehe, I love board games, and happily, I’ve started to rebuild my collection of board games this past holiday season thanks to friends, so I might be able to host game nights like in the past.

The evening was spent at Aaron and Yeming’s, where we held the 25th (?) DGS, this time focusing on Cabernet Sauvignons. We had a blast pitting our wine skills against one another in a Family Feud style showoff, with the losers taking a turn in at karaoke (though I think some people lost on purpose so they could have a turn at the microphone…).

After a late night out, it was delicious sleeping in Sunday morning, burrowed deep under my sheets. I only reluctantly crawled out of bed at 11am, and at noon, headed off to VE with Chuck where we spent the next five hours on the wall. The climbs at VE felt great after my struggles on the super-reachy routes at LVAC – I need to work on my footwork since Lynn Hill, arguably the world’s greatest climber, is my height but can easily climb 5.14s.

The highlight of the evening was Chuck’s incredible 20-feet lead fall. Somewhat inconceivably, he had elected to bypass a solid hold in favor of a sloper higher up on the wall with which he tried to balance himself whilst clipping in his rope. But I guess as he pulled up more rope, his hand slipped and he took a 20-feet free fall. With a great whoosh, I found myself suddenly hoisted into the air and ended up three feet off the ground. Chuck landed only two feet off the ground. Eep. It was perhaps one of the biggest falls anyone’s taken in the gym for a while, and the band of climbers behind us could be heard audibly sucking in their breaths. Julian and Sandra, who were climbing at the other end of the gym, said they felt a sudden rush of air when he fell and were astounded to see the height he had fallen off from (In Sandra’s words, “I looked to see where he had last clipped in, and I looked up, and up, and up.”). My nerves were a little wrangled at the close shave, but Chuck simply shook out his arms for a moment and went right back up the wall. But when he again came to the crux, I made him take, fearful that he would slip once more but I wouldn’t be so lucky as to catch him that time. Haha, but at least now we know who’ll be the one doing most of the leads when we go climb outside!

And as per usual, we finished the climbs off with dinner and beer at Rock Bottom with Julian and Sandra, where we lounged for a good two hours and indulged in yet more climb talk. Haha, all that time on the wall was quite intoxicating, to the point where I’m rueful about having to take the next couple weekends off from climbing to spend time on the ski slopes…

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