Saturday, March 27, 2010

My long awaited sport: Rock/wall climbing!!!

Finally I made it to do one of the sport (if you consider it sport too) i have been dreaming of!!! Yeah, it’s rock climbing!!! Never thought that I would do it here in Adelaide, Australia. I used to see pictures of amazing climbs from National geographic though just glimpse of people doing it for National parks e.g Yosemite NP and then seeing people doing indoor climbing at 1U. The thought of going for a course in 1U was tempting at one point, but this activity in Malaysia just haven’t been promoted enough, plus you don’t get it everywhere, thus EXPENSIVE for a student like me!!! Which is also why part of the reason I love to climb/hike Bukit Tabur due to its limestone rocky terrain that allow one some rock scrambling.


Sure enough when I heard of AUMC (Adelaide University Mountaineering club), one of their main activity is rock climbing and that alone tempted me to join them, in which I did in July 2009. I join them as a board committee hoping I would meet more people with same interest and learn as much as I can from them. But it wasn’t until late November 2009 that I finally step foot into the indoor gym at Holden Hill to give it a try. Thanks to Johno again for offering to provide me transport otherwise I don’t think i would have went because time wise it must be Tuesday or Thursday to enjoy the AUMC member discount and also to meet other AUMC members that could climb with you and worst still, it’s heaps far from my house though I can take the bus (transit 2x), the problem to me would be going back at night after climbing. I’m just too lazy to get out from work to catch the bus to gym and go back alone after a tiring climb.

Compared to Malaysia, Australia is more of a nature paradise for rock climbing, I meant OUTDOOR rock climbing. They have one of the world’s best spot for rock climbing in the Grampians, Victoria especially the Arapiles!!! That answers why many Aussies boys and girls like rock climbing.

Bouldering (pics below)….climbing without ropes!!!

Anyway, my first climb was an exciting one. There really are many people in the gym as expected, and of course the walls that soar to the roof really excites me but scared me in the same way as it was something I long to do but somehow when I faced it, I was really pondering CAN I?? after all, body wise I’m not fit and I’m not tall. The world’s best climbers usually have fit body and quite tall, understandable because they need the arm strength and the height to help them reach the next hole.  Then the next minute, i was trying to fit a harness on me, knowing that I’m super skinny, luckily I found one that I can still fit in not so badly. I did not try on the climbing shoes as I thought my old sport shoes will be fine (which turned out quite alright though not ideal).  Luckily AUMC provide free gears otherwise I have to hire one at the counter which would make the climb less attractive and more expensive , haha.

I have to go through an short induction course to learn how to make sure the harness is tight enough, how to belay (Turn a rope round an object or person in order to secure it or him) and the idea of safe climbing. The training was not hard, and the climbing in the gym is always the top rope type which is the safest of all types. By the way, the walls are all graded from the easiest i think is 8 to grad 24 or 27, cant remember exactly. The grading is shown by the different colours of the holes you need to follow in order to get to the top of the wall and some walls are particularly hard because of the overhang.

As I watch my friend went up and down, finally it was my turn, they picked one easier route for me and encouraged me to climb, haha. I must say I was a bit delaying, a bit nervous too. By the way, the climbing must be carried out in a pair, u climb, the other one making sure u are safe on top :)

Johno climbing Grade17 and 18.

Luckily I was not that bad and clumsy, and the whole process was very safe (if you belay correctly), haha. But it did took a while to make it the top partly because I’m not used to it, plus you have to work out how to reach the holes, change your hand or leg position, to find the best way to go up. Of course, the easier grade provides more holes or easier reach holes than the higher grades.

Me doing a Grade 9/10 (on the far left)

Then they said try this and that, in which some I have to give up because i just can’t reach the next hole after multiple try. Rock climbing isn’t just about using strength physically but also testing you mentally. You have to climb smartly to avoid stressing your arms or legs, it’s about balancing yourself in the top air, so that you don’t leave one arm hanging, or pulling one leg’s muscle…etc. That’s why MANY AUSSIES LOVE IT!!! It’s about conquering yourself!!! haha.

Me attempting to do a Grade 11 (pics below). Tried a few times because there’s always one part where I just can’t reach it, FINALLY I made it to the top. Must say thanks to Leigh and Johno waiting for me to hang around in the mid air taking my time to regain back my energy. Today I could only do Grade 11, and that strain my arms, shoulders and legs so much, haha. Have to do lots of chin ups to train my arms. By the way, being NOT TALL enough is a major disadvantage unless you have STRONG arms that can carry your weight, because it’s just so PATHETIC that due to one higher up hole that you can’t reach and you are forced to either jump to grab that hole which seriously strain your energy or give up which I hated the most. You would just be thinking, how good if I’m a bit taller!!!!!
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Johno trying to do a Grade 20/22 through a bit of overhang type.

Though I did not do many climbs today, but it was SERIOUS GREAT FUN, I LOVE IT but just took me a lot of energy, and they did it every week!!! I knew I can’t. Haha. I need probably at least 2 weeks to regain energy and relieve my sore arms & legs, haha.

Well, first climb is just a start for me, hope to do more in 2010 and possibly kick some ass at outdoor rock climbing, yeah!!! Arghhhhh, my fingers!!!!
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