Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Make Yourself Taller

As much as I like to rock climb, I like to watch other people climb too. One day I saw Becky tap her foot up the wall to reach the next hold on a challenging 5.10 route which also made me want to chitchat with her about climbing. Recently, I got a chance to have that chat between routes.

'Drea: How long have you been climbing?

Becky: Maybe two or three years but not regularly.

'Drea: Did you instantly take a liking to it?

Becky: No, no. Not at all. Chuck (Becky's husband) started climbing. He's probably been doing it for seven or eight years. I think I tried it once and I hated it and I think it took me a couple of years and I was bored and I was thinking -- maybe I could try it.

'Drea: Did he (Chuck) ask you to try it again?

Becky: No, he didn't specifically ask me but I saw that he enjoyed it and I thought I would give it another try...

'Drea: Did you taking any rock climbing classes?

Becky: No, because he can teach me a lot of things...

'Drea: What's the highest route you've ever climbed?

Becky: Actually, the last time that I was here, I did a 10 (5.10) and I was pretty happy with that...

'Drea: Congratulations. Which 5.10 route did you do?

Becky:...There's one up there -- a 5.10 (Heelin the Pain); I can do all the moves but I haven't put them all together yet...

'Drea: Well, you looked pretty good when I saw you on it...

(Becky Lead Belaying for Chuck)

'Drea to Chuck: So, do you mind if I ask you how you got into rock climbing?

Chuck: Oh, with my kids. We have two boys. I was really taking them and belaying them.

'Drea: Did you like it the first time?

Chuck: Yeah, I did. I loved it. Basically, I was doing what Paul is doing -- belaying a lot not really getting a chance to climb myself. It's kind of like skiing. People ask how long have you been skiing. Well, I've been skiing for 30 years but if you only go once a year, you don't get very good and that's kind of the way I was with rock climbing... How long have you been rock climbing? Twenty years but many of those years I was just belaying the kids and going once or twice a year. It wasn't until we moved here that I joined the gym and started doing it seriously and I'm retired so I could have more time to do it.

'Drea: What did you like about it?

Chuck: It's something that I'm good at. I like meeting people too. It's a social sport much more so than, say, running. Running's kind of a lonely thing that you do by yourself or at least I do. Climbing you have to have a partner. You usually go on trips and you have friends. I love the social aspects of climbing. This is my social hour.

'Drea: Have you done marathons?

Chuck: Yeah, three of them.

'Drea: Have you done the Go! St. Louis?

Chuck: No. In Detroit. We lived in Detroit.

Chuck has also done high altitude climbing.

'Drea: How does high altitude climbing differ from indoor?

Chuck: For one thing, you can't breathe very well above 20,000 feet and it's mostly walking. There's very little rock climbing and you're on snow and ice and you're using crampons and your feet and you're roped up from one climber to the next.

'Drea: Did you take any rock climbing classes?

Chuck: No...

'Drea: I wonder because sometimes I feel like I'm missing out on technique by not taking classes.

Chuck: I don't think so. It just comes with practice...I would have never imagined that Becky would be climbing 5.10's. I'm just amazed at her...

'Drea to Becky: Do you have any strategy when you are approaching a route? Do you map it out on the ground?

Becky: (shakes her head and smiles a bit) No, I think you have to be really good to map it out on the ground. Which foot is going to go where...

Becky to 'Drea: Do you usually plan a route from the ground?

'Drea: I usually don't but I've heard people say, I need to put my left arm here, my hip into the wall there. I kinda of just do it as I go...

Becky: I don't know how they do that...

'Drea: So do you think you rely on anything more like drop knee or flagging or smearing or anything like when you're climbing? Is there anything that you like to resort to more? Or balance?

Becky: Yeah, I try to use balance and, when I'm on the wall, I try to see where my next move will be...

'Drea: Do you do any self-talk or are there any little reminders you're giving yourself as you climb?

Becky: No...

'Drea: You just kind of go with the flow, hunh? Are you involved in any other activities?

Becky: I do yoga. Do you do yoga?

'Drea: I do.

Becky: Where do you do it at?

'Drea: At home. I've never been to a class or anything. I have DVDs...I don't know if I'm actually doing a lot of the poses right.

Becky: You should go to a class.

'Drea: I think I will because I have a habit of doing things out of alignment...

'Drea: What kind of yoga do you do?

Becky: I've done different kinds: Vinyasa flow...Hatha yoga, Ashtanga...

'Drea: That was one of the documentaries that I watched (Ashtanga, NY) and it looked incredibly difficult.

Becky: They're all pretty similar. They kinda put it as being different schools of yoga but...

'Drea: Do you think that yoga helps you with climbing?

Becky: Yes, I think it helps your balance. And it helps your breathing. I think that's one thing about climbing (especially when you get upset), you have to keep breathing and yoga helps you with that.

'Drea: Are you a runner?

Becky: Not much...

'Drea: If someone were interested in rock climbing, how would you describe it to them?

Becky: It's really a neat sport and men and women can do both evenly in some respects...

'Drea: Have you invited anyone to climb?

Becky: I've mentioned it to a few of my colleagues but nobody's taken me up on it.

'Drea: I know. I can't get any takers and some people say they'll come and then cancel...

Becky: And then some people are afraid of heights.

'Drea: I wasn't crazy about heights but...Did you have any fear of heights?

Becky: Not in the gym but Chuck has taken me outside a few times...and that's a totally different situation and can be scary...

'Drea: Where did you all go outside?

Becky: Outside of Las Vegas (Red Rock Canyon) and we did a little bit in Colorado.

'Drea: Do you have any rock climbing goals?

Becky: To get better. I started climbing twice a week just in the last month. I can feel that I'm getting things that I couldn't do before when I was coming once a week and then I would have to skip a week or two for work...

'Drea: Do you have any plans to do lead climbing?

Becky: I'm thinking about it...

No need to ask Becky about her shoes since I spotted the 5.10's on the ground.

After our interview, Becky climbed Two Weeks Off, a 5.10 route. She was attempting to get over the crux when Chuck said make yourself taller. I made a mental note to remember that the next time I'm facing challenges on a route.


  1. Interesting that she didn't like it at first! What a 180!!

  2. I just got the okay from my doctor to start exercising again! I'm so excited. I don't know if I'll be climbing soon, but your post made me really anxious!

  3. Wow! What a lot of information on this post. I find it very interesting how they got involved in climbing and whether or not they took classes!

  4. wow-chuck must be REALLY used to high altitudes! he says it's hard to breathe above 20,000 feet and i find it difficult around 10,000 feet above sea level. we lived in Colorado at 9,400 feet and it took me a year to get 100% acclimated.
    he must have lungs of steel! go chuck!
    i SO want to take my daughter rock climbing. i've been a couple times a long time ago and really liked it.

  5. How interesting! Really cool interview with lots of good information. I really really want to try rock climbing one day!

  6. I truly believe that Yoga can help you in any sport. :D

    And I sent you a message via Twitter that I would love for you to do a guest post about rock climbing - how you came to it and what kind of fitness it has brought to you.

  7. @Nicole, RD,

    I definitely wanted to pose the *like* question because I certainly didn't cotton to rock climbing at first and I was sure that I wasn't the only one...


    So glad that you got clearance to exercise because that means that you're getting better. Yay!


    Thanks. Glad that you found something of interest.


    See, I need you as a co-interviewer. I'm clueless about the altitude thing. Chuck is a strong climber though.

    I hope that you get to go climbing with your daughter soon. I love to see the shorties tackle the routes; they are so persistent.


    Thanks, woman. :)


    Thanks. I hope that you get to go rock climbing in the near future and I'd definitely like to hear what you think about it...


    I think you're right about yoga being helpful with just about any sport...

    I'm doing the mental groundwork for the guest post. ;)