Wednesday, February 16, 2005

First Climbing Trip(cont.)

I had the best day in a long time, that first day out at Delaware Water Gap. After we got our introductory information, Joe went up to set the top rope anchors. When he got back and said "Who's first?" I waited about 3 seconds for someone else to raise their hands. Of COURSE I wanted to GO! But I didn't want to be an ass. Still, I gave a fair chance and when no one else seemed ready for action, I was like "Uh...I want to go."

There were 2 climbs set up for us, and the were like 5.2 and 5.3. But who cared? It felt so cool. Much different than being on a gym wall. The rockface felt like a living entity, and I felt like I was crawling into Mother Nature's lap. I was amazed at all the options for holds. It was like EVERYTHING was saying "touch me!"

I remember getting to one point, about 2/3 to the top, and looking at the hold options. There were so many choices, that I decided to think about which one I preferred to use, instead of yarding on the first thing my hand landed on. I felt around, and as I passed my hand over an edge in the rock, my hand folded around this made-to-fit undercling. It was like finding a secret entryway.....

I had already taken about 50 pictures of everyone, and told them I'd shoot them as they climbed. I asked one of the girls if she wouldn't mind taking photos of me while I climbed and was so excited to see what she'd captured. I was a bit pissed, but also hurt, when I got back down and asked if she thought she'd gotten anything worth keeping, and she flipped "oh, I forgot...." and handed back my camera. Throughout the day, she forgot each time I went up those climbs. It wasn't until the end of the day that I'd realized she had done it intentionally, for some bizarre and catty reason. Bitch.

It was still a good day. I tried not to be a hog on the climbs, and I also offered to belay a good deal. After all, I knew it was important I get practiced. At days end I asked how many times people had gone up. I was surprised that most had done 4, 5 and 6 climbs. I had only done 3.
For the first time in my life, I was pissed at myself for being self-sacrificing. It's a character flaw I've always had, but had taken a dysfunctional pride in. That day, I saw it in an uglier light. I told myself that the next day, I would still be careful not to take more than my share, but damned if I was going to take less.

That night we got back to the AMC camp lodge and were hanging out when someone excitedly yelled out "A Bear!!" Yep, there was one. The first time I'd ever seen a bear that wasn't at a zoo.

Everyone ran out to get a look, me included. People started following the thing with their cameras, edging for a close-up! I started to see that this might get...well, you know. And apparently the camp dog also realized he had a bunch of tourons to protect, because he started an attempt to run off the bear. Here's a picture of the dog, taken later that night:

Anyway - I am a dog handler, and I was afraid for the dog. So I commanded him, loudly, to stop. I was relieved when he did, because he was gaining on that bear. I said "Get back here." And, again luckily, he obeyed. But the people kept trying to follow that bear..... I rememebr having the thought that "If that bear charges, I am going to shut this cabin door and lock it." And then realizing how stupid that was, as if a bear would knock before barging in.....

Anyway, the bear sauntered off, nobody was hurt, and when the guides came over later on everyone was very excited to talk about the bear.

Joe asked how big it was and I said "HUGE! It was like the size of Gentle Ben!" And he started laughing uncontrollably. I didn't know what was so damned funny. But later, all the other camp people laughed when Joe recounted my sizing up a little Brown Bear as a Grizzly.....

That night, the camp cooks made a really delicious lasagna dinner, and later a bunch of local college profs came and jammed for us. They played folk music from the 70's and it brought back so many memories. I was moved to tears. People thought I was a fool....

Anyway, here is a picture of the guys playing.

This guy was also the camp cook.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

First Climbing Trip(cont.)

So, we had a nice drive heading out to the Delaware Water Gap, on a Friday evening. Both the girls were very friendly and I thought we would be in for a fun weekend. We arrived a bit later than we'd been expected(NYC traffic) and the introduction discussion/passing out of the shoes and harnesses and biners part of the workshop was underway.

As we came through the doorway, one of the guides(Dave) came out to meet us and bring us up to speed. He saw my shoes dangling from my pack and commented that they had equipment for us to use. I now realize he thought I had gone out and purchased them just for the weekend....He told me to take my shoes and harness in to the other guy and ask if they were "all right" to use.... I knew they were making fun of my newbie stuff, and was a little miffed. But, what the hell - I WAS new.

So, they went through all the basic stuff a person needs to know in order to have a good chance at not doing things like walking off the edge of the cliff, handed out the shoes to the others and gave us a little history lesson. It was fun; there were about 8 of us, an even mix of men and women. Two others had been on rock before and I was the "Oh my GOD, I want to climb!" newbie. The others had seen the description in the AMC catalog and thought it would be a fun thing to try.

The next morning, we headed out to a roadside crag, and hiked up to our little section of rock. Here's Dave and Joe, giving us our "safety talk."

Here are the other participants for the weekend. This is terrible, but I don't remember some of their names....

This guy tended to go on these sorts of weekend things just for entertainment. His big thing was hiking above treeline, and he thought maybe with a bit of climbing information, he could go on more difficult trips. He headed off by himself on Saturday night, to the bar down the road, and didn't invite any of us along.....

This is Teresa. She drove the car out there. She works at VH1 doing product placement or something like that, and just wanted to try something new.

This guy, I forget his name. He had a job as a rigger, and took the climbing workshop to get some skills, I think he said.

This guy was Steve, I think. He was going on a family vactaion to climb the Gand teton, and wanted to have a little extra skill before heading out. He sent us all a nice little trip report after he did that trip a few months later.

This is Janet. She had climbed at Red Rocks, and had recently joined AMC so she could get some outdoors weekend stuff going on.

This girl, I forget her name, but she was really very nice. She had never climbed beofr, and just thought it asounded fun, when she purused the AMC catalog. She found herself very frightened of trusting the gear, but kept pushing herself through, and she did a great job.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

First Climbing Trip

Pitifully enough, my first trip was also the first time I got to climb real rock. But, that is how it was. No use varnishing the facts. What happened was, I had joined this Yahoo Group
and one of the members posted that they wanted to cancel on a beginner's rock climbing course. They needed to find a replacement or they'd be obliged to forfeit their deposit. Plus, their reservation had been the one to tip the group size to the number requiring a second guide, who would not be happy to find out he wasn't needed so close to the date....

Lucky me, I had the money and time available, and GOD, how desperately I wanted to get on real rock. The course was through the Appalachian Mountain Club
and held at the Mohican Oudoor Center.

I knew that it would probably be a bunch of women, hoping to meet guys, who had never seen a carabiner used for anything except a keyring, but I didn't care. I was just happy to be heading outdoors.

There were two other women coming from Manhattan, and we all met up in Times Square(GPS coordinates: 32° 52.27 N : 117° 13.44 W). Here they are, at our meet up spot for our wilderness adventure......

I am a really bad photographer, and sometimes I get the strangest things in my shots without my even knowing. Usually, it's the usual - a thumb, or the lenscap is hanging in the way.... I just had to laugh, when I went to review my photos, and found I had somehow captured this image - completly unawares - when we were taking our "ROAD TRIP!!!!" departing photos.

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So, Here I Am

How can anyone NOT think climbing is fun when they see a photo like this:

Well, I suppose, to each their own, but for me, this last year - my first year climbing - has included some of the best times of my life. That's me, by the way, out at Peterskill in the Gunks, on a climb called "Santa's Revenge."
If you want to know some back story, check the URL below. It was an essay I submitted for the Rock & Ice 2004 Creative Writing Contest. Of course, I didn't win first prize - why would I have? But, I like writing, and so I did a piece, to participate. To show up.
My entry:

There were a lot of good writers who submitted pieces, and if you like to read, you'll find something here to keep you entertained for a bit. This is the URL for a list of all the entries :
As I said, I've been climbing over the last year, and I want to get up to the present in this space, so I need to get going....and there will probably be some past/present tenses going on until I am caught up. That's okay, I think. Most likely I'm the only one who'll be reading this anyway(as I edit....) and I won't be confused.

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