Altitude Sickness
November 22, 2016

Mastering the climb

It has been a quiet week in Killington. I haven’t been doing much in the way of activity other than skiing every day and rock climbing at the Rutland Gym.
This is what I normally refer to as my “asthsma season” or my “fat season.” For whatever reason, I tend to eat a lot of sugar and starch in the fall, which both causes my waistline to expand (and my abs to recede), and my asthsma to get to the point of feeling as though an elephant is sitting on my chest.
I have been doing much better with my diet this year, but the warmth and humidity has caused the allergy season (primarily caused by maple leaf mold as far as I can tell, my pulmonary state isn’t as bad in oak country) to extend, and so I am having more trouble than usual with my lungs and a relatively clean diet.
I have been having fun with the fall adult climbing league at the Rutland Gym, our team came in first several weeks, and we finished third overall.
I started the league climbing 5.9 climbs with a 5.8 (you get to count four climbs each night). The climbs are scored by difficulty, and a handicap is given to each climber based on their total score, so that less skilled climbers can compete with more skilled climbers.
The handicap is adjusted weekly so that climbers who improve weekly are rewarded with incremental gains in their scores. The scoring is quite brilliant, really.
In any case, as I climbed weekly, I really improved quite a bit, almost to the point to where I was when I was 23 years old. The third week I did a very difficult 5.9+ climb that  involved a very serious undercling on an overhang. A few more weeks later I climbed a 5.10b (5.10, 11, 12, and 13s are graded further with a-d).  Two weeks ago I had improved to the point of  climbing all 5.10 climbs in one night, one of them a 5.10c.
There was a 5.11 climb that I had been attempting for weeks, the first week making it only about 10 feet up.  The next week, I made it about two thirds of the way up, but the last few moves were on an overhang while standing on a ledge. This is difficult for a tall person, because the taller you are, the more the overhang pushes you back off the ledge.
I even came in on other days to work on this climb, and finally saw the move that I needed to do to finish it when another climber over 6 feet tall did the move. The way he did it was to leave his left leg off the ledge instead of having both legs up, allowing his body to get much closer to the wall while he stood up to get the next hold.
The final three moves were easy strength moves, basically monkey bar moves on big grippy holds, feet barely touching anything because of the overhang, the final move being a pull-up to hold your head to the ceiling for three seconds, with your feet hanging in space below you.  When you let go, you are actually trusting that the rope will catch you, instead of settling back onto it like usual.
One of the things that I have always loved about climbing is how goal-oriented it is, and how satisfying it is to finish a climb. Now I just have to get in there and figure out how to climb a 5.12, while I figure out my next adventure.

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