Monday, August 27, 2007

Finally at the top

August 26, 2007 - Sunday

Finally at the top
Current mood: happy

One of the benefits of living in Colorado is the amazing outdoor life. Everything is so beautiful. There is so much to do outside, hike, climb, explore. . . how could one ever be bored.

We have gone out rock climbing a few times since we have lived here. Since I had to get new shoes and a harness (mine are with the movers that STILL have not arrived), I have only participated the last two times. Both times were at Castlewood Canyon in Castle Rock (no not Stephen Kings Castle Rock).

Both times I was incredibly disappointed with myself. I am not making excuses but the rock is harder out here, not to mention a little more painful (at least the places we have gone to). So I have had climbers block. I would get about 1/4 way up the wall and just block, not be able to go any farther.

I realize part of it is the rough rock scares me, I mean when you fall on that and hit the wall. . . skin is coming off. Needless to say that makes one a little more hesitant to push ones self. Part of it is the nerves of climbing with new people. Especially since the new people and Mark are rockin it on the rock, where I am floundering. But the biggest part is hesitation. . . . hesitation is the root of all that is evil.

I have found in rock climbing that the minute you stop and think about it your path, your climb, your distance from the ground and all the other little factors surrounding you. . you freeze. The path seems harder, the rock seems harder. . . the fall . . . .well it definitely seems harder. So when you stop using the momentum to push you up that rock. . . when you hesitate to guess your next move. .. . well you tend to talk yourself out of it.

A new friend of ours is one of my "Rock Role Models". I wish I looked at the rocks the way he does. Not because he sees nooks and crannies I would never dream of holding on to in a million years (not that secure in my rock climbing). But because when the rock has started to defeat him, he sits back and says "damnit, I am going to get to the top". A couple of times he even stopped while being lowered and said "wait, how about this" and would try the wall one or two more times.

I was starting to become embarrassed. Because in essence not getting to the top during ANY of these climbs. . . well it makes me a quitter. I don't like being a quitter. Who does?

So on the last climb yesterday, using Michelle as my role model for this one (she is newer to climbing than I am, but when her brother says NO, try it this way. . .she tried. . . it doesn't always work out but sometimes it does. . like she became the layback queen on the last outing because she didn't quit) I decided I was going to make it to the top. Now granted this is not the hardest of climbs, but it requires one to do a technique that is called the "lay back". The lay back makes me nervous because basically you are smearing your feet (or putting one in a crack if you are lucky enough to have a crack big enough), sticking your hands in the crack and extending your arms leaning back and climbing the crack. I have NO faith in my upper body strength so this maneuver is not one that I felt comfortable with. As a matter of fact, every time Mark tried to teach it to me I would start to lay back and then quit. . .feeling uncomfortable.

But in order to make it up this climb, the lay back was necessary. So this time, without thinking about it, without hesitating. . . I laid back. .. . damn I laid back the entire way to the top. . . until I was able to touch the beiners. Not only that, but after a few other people climbed. . . I did again this time flying up the rock in under a minute. I was determined. . .not determined to look like a better climber, not determined to impress my peers. . . . but determined to impress myself by not hesitating and overcoming my fears.

Now, I am proud of myself, because I overcame something that was causing me to not enjoy myself at one of my favorite hobbies.

If my arms were not so damn sore. . . I would be back out there today, seeing what else I can overcome :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Castlerock Canyon. . the pictures say it all. . . .

I am really enjoying Denver. The land is beautiful!

Today Mark and I went climbing with our new friends Kyle and Michelle (from No. VA as well)!

This is the state park we tried to go to Friday but where rained out. So this time we started out EARLY in the morning to try and beat the rain!

Mark and I set our alarm for 5am so we would have time to swing by Village Inn for some poached eggs and breakfast. However, after several snoozes (the alarm is on Mark's side of the bed) we did not leave the house till 7am.

Since I was even DREAMING about eggs, I HAD to stop for breakfast. . . it was not my morning for breakfast though.

1st stop- Brugger's where I got a bagel with light veggie cream cheese. . . the cream cheese was gitty like someone had stirred in sand. Ugh. Needless to say it went in the TRASH!

2nd stop- to meet Kyle and Michelle at REI, I decided to reach into my snack bag and help myself to my 100 calorie baked Cheetos . . . . stale and horrid. . . TRASH

3rd stop- Starbucks where I got my favorite treat in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. . . a PUMPKIN SCONE! I was stoked to FINALLY have a great breakfast. . when I bit into it though my heart plummeted into my empty stomach. . . . it was not very good. . . kinda like it was a few days old. Ugh. I gave up on breakfast.

Finally after several stops we made it to the Canyon. . .

Time to hit the trail!

Unfortunately we did not park as close to the trail as we thought we did. . so there was a slight walk involved and a couple of close calls with some speedy cars.

We went searching for "The Grocery Store" Wall and hoped we were early enough to claim a spot. Unfortunately, climbers in Colorado wake up way earlier than DC climbers. We were not expecting it but all the good places were taken. So we went exploring looking for somewhere to climb.

The book was not helping that much. . maybe because the diagrams were a little backward. But Mark and Kyle kept looking.

For a while it felt like we would NEVER pick a place to climb

But at least the view is beautiful!!!!

A lot of the rock on the open sections were either covered with too many bushes or looked to "crumbly".

Stopping for a break. . . .

And some picture taking. . .

While the boys were debating which rock to climb, Michelle and I were standing by a large rock talking when all the sudden we heard a hissing sound (mind you there are LOTS of rattlesnakes in Colorado). . . .without thinking we both ran as fast as possible away from the rock to higher ground.

My knees were shaking and we were both unwilling to walk back down the path for fear of the snake. Mark was not sure what we saw, but Kyle was sure we were just pulling his leg. If there is one thing I do NOT joke about it is rattlesnakes. So Kyle went over to the falling branches near where we were standing to look for the snake. After moving them around for a moment something went slithering across his path. He thinks is is a garden snake but was not certain. Needless to say Michelle and I did not waste any time getting out of that area.

Finally we found a place to climb. .. well actually a few places.

So time to put on our harnesses

Time to set up!

We could not find a good scramble up to set the anchors, so Kyle pulled out his pro and started lead climbing. . . it was harder than he thought it would be.

I thought it was kind of scary to watch, but he was doing well.

While we were waiting Mark decided to look to see if he could find a scramble farther down the rock. As Kyle pulled himself up the steep rock, Mark's head apeared over the edge. He had found a difficult scramble a little farther down. Although, it probably would of been a LOT easier for Kyle to go up the scramble, I think he was still glad to be able to use his pro to get up. :)

FINALLY time to climb!

Michelle and I climbed together. It was the first time I had belayed someone other than Mark. It was fun to climb with a girl. I let Michelle go first since I was a little rusty.

Then it was my turn. . .

Mark and Kyle belayed each other. It was male bonding.

Kyle climbed first

Then Mark. . .

Michelle was really good at the "lay back", it helped her get farther up this climb than I did. I guess I need to start doing more pull-ups at the gym.

Mark's last climb was this really difficult climb with a LOT of steaming. He did an amazing, amazing, amazing job. I was SO proud of him. He was amazing. He definitely left the Beginner category and moved into a solid intermediate category. I wish I had video of it. . but I do have some GREAT photos!

I am so proud of my strong and wonderful husband :)

Then it was Kyle's turn to try the same route.

Then like every day this week, the dark clouds started moving in and we knew the rain was not far behind. . so we packed up our gear. . . .

And headed out. We made it to the car JUST in time.

Of course we were all starving. We had snacks (beef jerky, cookies, nuts, protien bars and more) but real food was NEEDED. So we headed over to OUTBACK for a meal fit for a climber. . . steak and potatoes!

It was a great time. I enjoy hanging out with Michelle and Kyle a lot, there are a lot of fun and have great senses of humor. I hope we have many, many more rock climbing adventures :)

♥ Holly

Here are some more pictures!!