Tuesday, October 1, 2013

rock hard

So on Saturday we finally made it out on our long-planned, oft-rescheduled Rock Climbing Extravaganza with some friends of ours. Now, let's be clear: Matt and I are not rock climbers. We have done it before-- in the comfort of a rock climbing gym. Never out on ACTUAL rocks with like...trees...spiders...wind...the risk of ACTUALLY plummeting to your death and being hours away from medical care. Please understand that climbing in a gym and climbing on a mountain are as different as riding a stationary bike in the gym and riding a unicycle on a tightrope across Niagara Falls. Same basic concept. VERY DIFFERENT FEELING.

But- our friends are frequent and avid rock climbers and we've been planning to join them all summer. The time had finally come. "Well," I told myself several times throughout the day, "if I don't die, at least I will for SURE be a badass." And we all know that's basically my number one life pursuit, so it was a compelling reason to press on.

After meeting up at SIX IN THE MORNING ON A SATURDAY to leave Athens, we drove up to Mount Yonah (an hour and a half away). Then we loaded our packs on our backs and set out to hike up to the rock. Brian and Cristina had said it'd be about an hour hike to get to the place where we'd climb. I was down with that, although I was a bit worried about my toe injury (PEOPLE OF INSTAGRAM: I know that I still have not told that story. Calm down. I'll get to it eventually, maybe!! It's enough to know that I had a very hurty toe, but I could function. Wearing closed-toed shoes was pretty painful though...to speak nothing of the misery of the rock-climbing shoes). But still- an hour hike through the lovely North Georgia mountains sounded beautiful and lovely and fall-ish. No biggie.

They neglected to mention that by 'hike' they actually meant 'scramble vertically up the side of a mountain.' What they called 'hike', I would have previously referred to as 'rock climbing,' only there was no safety gear. It was intense. I was exhausted after about 10 minutes. STRAIGHT UP, people. I'm not a mathematician and I suck at estimating, but I'll ballpark that the grade was about an 85 degree angle. This was no fall stroll in the park. I just want you to know. It wasn't.

About halfway up we stopped for a photo op and I took a couple of hearty hits on my inhaler. I know. I'm such a cool kid.

The view was gorgeous, not that you can see it here.

We finally arrived at the base of the rock and got ready for some 'balance climbing.' It was at this point that I realized my fatal error: I oversell myself. I talk a big game. Somewhere along the way, between my exuberance for Zumba, training for the tri, running in the morning, and general pursuit of badassery...I've put out the impression that I'm some kind of stellar athlete.

The truth is...I'm not. I'm basically a big wimp who just wants to be less fat. And they were all about to call my bluff. I am not a girl who climbs up the side of a rock using only her fingertips and 'balance.' ESPECIALLY WHEN I HAVE A DEBILITATING TOE INJURY!!!! Oh. Crap.

We harness up and I get re-schooled in the art of belaying. This much at least I can do. I can help other people not-die. And I can smile!

Then it was my turn to climb. I tried not to focus on the fact that I have a daughter who needs me to not plunge off the side of a mountain trying to prove how brave she is. Instead, I focused on trying to do something really scary and hard so that I could one day preach to her the virtues of rising above your fears. I'm going to be a super obnoxious mom, I can already tell! 

OH YEAH-- that's me!!! Do I look like I'm hyperventilating, shaking, and freaking out every time I see a spider?? No? Good. This is the virtue of photographs versus video.

This may have been at the top or maybe just a 'resting place' (where there is a good enough foothold that you can pause for a moment to gather your wits about you). Matt was using the zoom lens-- I promise I was about a million feet in the air!

Phew. I made it. With no shortage of pain, I assure you. I conquered that first climb and then I spent most of the rest of the time doing things that did not involve climbing rocks: belaying for the rest of them, napping in hammocks, and keeping people updated on football scores. It's important to have someone like me along, right? I tell myself it just meant that everyone else got to have more chances to climb.

I did one more climb a few hours later. And then I pretty much had a panic attack at the midpoint while I was waiting for everyone else to climb up (it was some kind of two-part climb...so I had to unhook, anchor myself to a bolt, and wait 30 minutes SITTING ON A ROCK A MILLION FEET IN THE AIR for everyone else to climb up and then we'd all go up further on the second half of the climb)...the height and the lack of ground totally freaked me out and I was about to lose my mind and cry and possibly vomit until they graciously said it was totally okay for me to go back down and keep my feet on the ground while they finished the climb.

So I did. I spent some time taking pictures of trees and the view. Things way more my speed. 

So I will admit that I had a fabulous time on our rock climbing adventure, although the actual climbing wasn't really my favorite. I think I might stick to rock walls in gyms...or very low, easy climbs...or to being the designated belay girl on the ground. But I did it, so I still get to count myself as a badass, which is really all that matters. And now I can preach to my kid about being brave. So a lot of good DID come from the adventure. Plus it was a gorgeous day, perfect weather, great company, and I got enough exercise to last me at least a week. All wins in my book.


  1. First of all I've agreed to do an indoor rock climb ("indoor climbing wall" might be a better term) with my youth who I'm mentoring, and just the thought of it has me freaking out. But you know, that whole being brave and conquering your fears and being a good example stuff is sort of a big push for me to not back out of it.

    Also, I'm impressed that you've actually unicycled across Niagara Falls and can use it as an example :)

  2. I still think you're AMAZING even now that I know you almost had a panic attack. I climbed ONE time on ONE wall and almost vomited. Coming back down is not my thing. I think I could potentially (read that in small italic letters) do it if I never had to come back down. Ughhhh! Ultimate fear. Add in spiders and snakes and scorpions and I'm sure my heart would have exploded from fear.

    Total badass award! Glad you had fun and that you made it home with a great story to share with your daughter!

  3. And without a toe nail....ouch! I'm impressed and also think you're a little crazy :)

  4. "I'm basically a big wimp who just wants to be less fat." -- and with that, you've completely summarized my entire approach to exercise.

    Rock climbing (without a toenail, no less), surviving a panic attack, and having the foresight to lug a camera to share these pics with us = badass any day of the week :)

  5. Wow! What a view...well worth the anxiety attack you had perched high above the ground. I cannot believe your poor toe survived the climb. The pain must have been awful :(

  6. You are total BADASS! Now I am totally curious about the toe!

  7. Glad you had a good time overall! Wade took me with some hippie friends of his a few weeks before we got married - NEVER AGAIN. (It was also July in Texas and over 100 degrees outside that day, so I'm judging by your long-sleeved shirt that you didn't have that problem thrown in.)

  8. As an avid, crazy outdoor rock climber for 15+ years (wow...I'm old) this makes me very, very happy!! The view looks amazing and the rock looks pretty nifty too. Wish I was there to guide you and Matt up the rock! xo

  9. I, for one, am impressed! Also, I think you should write about how rock climbing parallels your struggles to have a baby. You know persevering and all that crap, and then finally getting to enjoy the view at the end? Genius, I know.

  10. Girl, that is impressive!!! Great pictures - looks like so much fun! So glad you had that opportunity and totally a bummer about the toe! The hammock picture looks just like what I would want to do ;)

  11. I think you are awesome for doing this!! I am way too scared to attempt anything like this so major points from me! The pictures are great and the relaxing in the hammock part seems fun :)

  12. Super impressed. I think I for sure would have vomitted during that whole 2 part climb. Waiting 30 minutes that high in the air??? don't think so!

  13. You look like a bad ass in those pictures!!

  14. Look at you, you little bad ass climbing up rocks and stuff.


  15. Great post. You made me want to camp and climb a rock.

    ditto the above comments
    BAD ASS!

  16. Way to go! But I have to admit, I'm such a chicken, just looking at pictures of how high you were scares me!

  17. You are braver than I (me? I don't know...). Also, don't you feel super cool whipping out that inhaler? I know I do!


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