Monday, June 21, 2010

Go For It: A Look Behind the Rock Climbing Scene, Part III of III

‘Drea: Any tips for people who are looking to get into rock climbing?

Jessica: Go for it. Just try it. It’s a lot of fun. It can be intimidating walking in for the first time. You don’t know anybody and there are a lot of people around. I think there’s a perception that if you’re a rock climber, you already have to be in amazing shape and it’s not true. I’ve seen people who have come in for the first time who are older, people who are overweight or people who haven’t done a lot of exercise. If you want an engaging sort of puzzle, if you get bored with exercise easily, don’t worry about where your current level of fitness is -- just get in and try it…

Patti: I would also say a six week class is good because it makes you come back… If we had gone once, I would have been like, yeah, that’s fine but who wants to do that again? But if you’ve committed for six weeks, by the end of the six weeks, you start figuring things out...

‘Drea: I agree because I came sporadically at first. I had a six month hiatus at one point and everything suffered – from belaying to climbing.

Jessica: And it becomes less about using your forearms feeling pumped out right away and feeling scared… Your arms are used to it. You’re used to being up that high so it's not a shock. You’re used to falling more… It becomes more about the puzzle; so, you’re engaged with it...

Patti: Plus, it’s very social. You're on the wall for a very short period and then you're down and you’re yakking... and yakking... and yakking.

'Drea: Who's yakking?

Jessica: You’re right. It’s more about community. In a normal gym, you’re trying really hard not to exit your bubble but, here, if you go in alone, people will offer you a catch, say "Hey, what’s your name?” “What’s going on?” They’ll help you if you get stuck on a route and people who you don't know will come by and say, "Move your foot over there."

‘Drea: That’s what Bruce did.

I was trying mightily to get over the arête on this route called And You’re Ready Now? Bruce hopped on the wall to show me how I could approach it. He also placed my foot back on the wall when I had fallen off and told me that he knew I was strong enough to do the route. That was the first and last time that I laid eyes on Bruce.

‘Drea to Patti: You used to swim?

Patti: Yeah, when I was a kid, I was into gymnastics and band. I was really more of a tomboy. It really wasn’t as structured as it is now. We would be outside running from sunup to sundown and then I had kids and I did a lot of walking. I was never engaged in anything that I would consider athletic.

‘Drea: That is so funny to me that you don’t consider yourself athletic.

Patti: No. Oh no, I would be the last person.

‘Drea: And you’re like the best climber out of the three of us.

Jessica: What about now?

Patti: What about now? I think that I’m doing all right. I can’t run…

Jessica: Don’t put that in there about her. You can talk about her false modesty because she really is the best climber among us.

Patti: I’m not.

Jessica: Oh wow.

‘Drea: We’ll agree to disagree.

Jessica: I think you’re very athletic, mom; most grandmas don’t look like you...

‘Drea: Okay, ladies, we’ll call it a wrap.

I actually had one more question for Patti which I e-mailed.

‘Drea’s emailed question: Did Jessica express an interest in swimming or did you get her involved? If swimming was your idea, why did you think it was important?

Patti: I grew up around the corner from the park pool. It was big with 3 diving boards in the deep end and 8 'racing' lanes in the shallower end. I lived there in the summer, swam on the swim team and eventually became a swimming teacher and lifeguard.

I knew my kids would be swimmers, no ifs, ands or buts. I took them to the YMCA when they were little and had no fear. They learned quickly and I didn't have to worry about them so much when we were by 'water'. The swimming pool in our subdivision became a social spot, plus it had a swim team so I signed them up. You'll have to ask them, but I think they had fun.

My mother-in-law can't swim and is afraid of getting in water over her hips. Until I married, I never met anyone afraid of the water. Of course swimming is important in case you get into trouble in the water, but I think swimming is like riding a bike. How can you go through life without knowing those simple joys?

Part I of Interview with Jessica and Patti

Part II of Interview with Jessica and Patti


  1. Patti's mother-in-law needs to get in water and enjoy...if even with floaties! I can't imagine never swimming - how sad!

  2. What a great post - I enjoyed all three segments. I like how the climbing brings people together as a community. I enjoyed swimming on a swim team as a child - I wish some of my kids swam better.

  3. Very well written, my friend. I am terrified of heights,but I would be willing to try climbing with this group. :D

  4. @Nicole, RD,

    Swimming is a joy, isn't it? I can't wait until my shoulder gets better so that I can get back to my first love -- the backstroke.


    Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed the interviews. I was just thinking today that I wish my swimming skills were better. I'm going to keep working on it so that when I see those ads for sprint triathlons, I won't feel reluctant to register because of the swimming.


    Thanks, girl, and you are welcome to climb with us anytime. :)