This semester I decided to challenge myself and take a class of rock climbing at the UTEP recreational center. It is certainly something I have never done before and something I have always wanted to try. Today, on the first day of class I was a little nervous but at the same time excited. When I showed up to the climbing gym there were two girls already waiting for the class to start, so we waited together for the instructor to arrive.
As you walk into the gym there are two bouldering walls and in the middle there is a pinnacle and all three look very intimidating at first. It was 9:30 am and the class started, our instructor Omar introduced himself and made us do a brief introduction about ourselves. After the introduction, he explained a little about rock climbing and the safety basics. Then he asked for our shoe size to lends us climbing shoes (part of the RECs equipment) which help you once you are climbing the walls. And that is when the real action began, we were instructed to climb the bouldering walls but instead of going up we were supposed to go sideways, which is harder than it sounds.
Some of the guys in the class had some experience, so they went first. As they started climbing, I observed their techniques some tried to move their hands first from one rock to the other and others moved their feet first. Then it was my turn, I was very nervous I’m not going to lie; I’m not scared of heights but I was scared I could fall if I didn’t have a good grip on the rock. Surprisingly, once I started climbing all that fear went away and then it was just fun. It is hard at the beginning but once you get the hang of how to do it climbing becomes easier.
After going around the bouldering wall the instructor told us to pick a partner and choose one of the routes in the wall; there are different routes some more difficult than others and they can be distinguished by color. Omar explained to us that once you pick a route it helps to map it in your head first, to see what moves to make before you actually make them. Isabel (my partner) and I picked the green route which looked easy, but ironically it was very hard.
As I started climbing, Isabel guided me when I had difficulty to see where the next green rock was. Everything was going smoothly until I got stuck and I got to a dead end. I decided to go back a few steps and continue but once you are there is not as easy, you are using your whole body strength especially on your arms and fingers. You have to be coordinated and a fast thinker, if you stay in a position too long everything starts shaking and you may fall.
As I continued to try and finish the route, I ran into another challenge. I was about to get to the top, just one rock left and I noticed my arms were too short and I couldn’t reach it. This is when my “just do it” mentality kicked in, Isabel told me to try and impulse myself to the top but in order to do that I had to move my foot and hands at the same time. Which meant two things, either you reach for the top or you lose your grip and fall. I decided to just do it and turns out I did it! I reached the top rock and after it I felt very accomplished.
I guess this type of mind set helps not only in rock climbing, but it can also be applied to different settings. This got me into thinking on how sometimes we don’t put ourselves out there when a challenge is presented. You never know, more opportunities may arise from that challenge but in order to find out you just have to do it! Overall, I had an awesome time in my first climbing class, met new people and I’m very excited to learn more about climbing throughout this semester.