Last night was my last time at Metrorock. JJoo, Bryan, and I had gotten Metrorock Groupons for a one-month membership (also includes belay class if you want it and rentals) and it just expired yesterday. We went probably 4-6 times a week every week in the last month. SO MUCH FUN.
One thing that I loved about climbing was that I can see improvement in myself, even in just one week, in strength, technique and endurance. I started at 5.7s exactly 30 days ago and now I can climb 5.9s clean, and a few 5.10s. I'm less tired after each time we go to Metrorock than previous times. I feel more comfortable and flexible on the wall. And tonight I'm going to see if I can do a pull-up! =P (I've never been able to do one in my life.)
Another thing I love about climbing is that it takes a lot of focus and concentration. This climbing month came at a much needed time in my life. I've been struggling a lot with research, my dad's death in January, and just personal issues in general, and I just needed something to take my mind off of all of it. When I'm on the wall, I can't think about anything else except climbing and making it to the top. And it felt great to leave the gym exhausted and sleep soundly at night because I was so tired.
One of my favorite climbs is called "Bring your Jetpack!" The starting handhold starts about 8 feet off the ground and there is a stepping hold about 3 feet off the ground that you are supposed to use to hoist yourself up to the start. All the guys and some of the taller girls can stand next to the stepping hold and just step up to grab the starting hold. The only way I can get to the starting hold is if I take a running start from about 10 yards away and jump on the step and convert my forward momentum to upwards momentum and then grab the starting hold tightly so I don't swing off.
The first time I tried this climb, I couldn't convert, so it looked like (and felt like) I was running into the wall head first 10 times in a row and then bouncing off. One time I "bounced" off so hard I stumbled backwards and landed on my butt. After the first three times I looked around sheepishly and this girl belaying next to me said, "Don't worry, I did the same thing." Haha! But finally, I was able to grab the starting hold, and make my way up. The entire climb is fun because you do need your "jetpack" for parts of it. The handholds are easy to hold onto, but they're far apart and you need to reach for them and run up the wall during some parts and do some splits during other parts. After I found out about the "Bring your Jetpack" climb, I think I climbed it every day for a week because it was so awesome :)
I think climbing is much more a personal, mental exercise, like tennis. When I played tennis competitively, I felt like a crazy person sometimes. I talked to myself, cursed at myself, and psyched myself up. It's kinda like that for climbing, both fun and a little disturbing at the same time. I think I still like team sports more, like frisbee :)
I'm not going to continue my membership at Metrorock because 1) it's expensive ($215 for a 3-month student membership, but I do have my own gear :) ) and 2) it's far (without someone driving me on a regular basis, I would probably end up never going because I'm lazy and taking the T is too much of a hassle for me). Buuut I plan on getting into bouldering at MIT (it's free! and on the way home!) so if anyone wants to come with me, let me know! And maybe when I have a real job and a car I'll look into getting involved at a climbing gym, but that's too far in the future for me to think about right now.
So, to Metrorock, to Bryan, to JJoo, and to all the friends I climbed with, thanks for making this past month more bearable, more fun, and just plain awesome. :)