This isn’t one of those easy climbs. She really shouldn’t be on that. It isn’t meant for women – no matter how strong she looks.
Derek and I turned around immediately to see who it was that had just uttered such a demeaning statement. Sitting on a piece of rock was a burly black haired dude that would have been considered good-looking if he didn’t have a snide smile on his face and a rather bitter personality.
I was about to give him a scathing reply in return when Derek, my boyfriend held my hand and squeezed it. That was his way of telling me to relax and let it slip. Against the anger building up within me, I heeded him and turned my attention back to my harness.
My boyfriend, Derek, and I were at Garden State Rock for rock-climbing as we had always done twice every year. When I had met Derek, I wasn’t interested in rock-climbing in any way. It wasn’t even at the bottom of my bucket list.
Four years ago, when he had told me he was going rock climbing, my initial reaction was, “Why in the whole wide world would you choose rock-climbing as a hobby when there are a thousand and one safer recreational activities to get involved in?”
The reason behind my stereotypic view of rock-climbing was an incident that had happened in the little town where I had grown up. The town had a rock climbing wall before it was closed down. This was because a man fell off it and they hadn’t taken the right safety measures to prevent the unfortunate incident.
However, a few months later, I changed this view, and I started practicing rock-cimbing at a nearby gym until I was confident enough to do it on my own. Ever since then, I had climbed rocks about six different times, and I could regard myself as an expert at it.
Back to the present, I snugged my harness across my waist and thighs. I tightened the buckles as comfortably as I could. The next thing I did was to create a figure-eight at the bottom of the rope, thereby leaving about an arm’s length of the rlope at the bottom. I had done this often enough to be able to do it even in my dreams.
All I had to do to create the figure-eight was to grab one of the ropes that were hanging down the rock – usually, the one that was closest to the wall, measure out roughly an arm’s length, then drop the bottom of the rope. In so doing, I would have an upside-down “U” shape. The next thing was to pinch the two sides of the “U” to make a bit loop. I would wrap the bottom of the rope around the bite, cross over my hand so that the end of the rope is on my side of the bite, then pull the end of the rope to make my figure-eight.
After making the figure eight, I threaded the rope through two loops in front of my harness, then tied the end of the role into my figure eight, thereby attaching myself effectively to the rope. I double-checked to see that the rope went through both loops – the one on my legs and my waist before I finally tied it in. I took the end of the rope and traced out my figure-eight to make a double eight knot. I, then, took the end of the rope in my hands and followed the shake of the figure-eight, threading the end in, under, and over to create a snug, secure double figure eight.
By the time I was done with the rope, its end was pointing forward, following the rope up to the wall – just like it should.
“You probably should let him check that for you,” the guy that had talked earlier said again. Apparently, he was also there to climb the rock, and he was just finishing up with his ropes too.
“She has been rock-climbing for years, and she doesn’t need me to check her ropes out. Thanks for the concern, anyway.” This time, it was Derek that replied to him.
“Well,” the guy shrugged, “it would go down in the record that I tried to warn you.”
I ignored him and continued with my routine.
“On Belay?” I called down to Derek, who was, of course, my belay.
“Belay on,” he replied.
I got ready on the wall and called again. “Climbing?”
“Climb on,” he replied.
I started moving up the rock at the same time as the dark haired guy. Knowing the pros and cons of the rock really well, I knew just what to do. I kept my hips close to the wall by pointing my knees to the side. I was angling my knees away from the wall, almost like a frog so as to be able to keep my hips close to the wall.
I glanced briefly at the black haired guy and realized that he was leaning back, thereby relying on his fingers to hold him close to the wall. From experience, I had known that climbing with fingers would definitely drain up the climber’s energy and hurt his/her fingers over time. Seeing that he was obviously not as experienced as he thought, I threw a jab at him.
“Are you an amateur climber or something? I can’t believe you are climbing with your hands.”
“Well, we shall see who gets to the top first,” he said.
I nodded. Even though rock-climbing wasn’t a competition, I was ready to show him that I was not less of a climber because I was a lady.
I turned my attention back to the rock and continued my ascent. Whenever I wanted to push away to grab another hold, I made a move quickly and hugged the rock again to save my energy as spending a lot of time deciding which one to hold on to would definitely weaken me.
I climbed with rhythm. My usual rhythm was going with the two feet first before the two hands, and I have realized over time that it made me move faster and that it was less stressful. With experience, I had known that holding breath while climbing will deprive the muscles of its much-needed oxygen.
By the time I got to the top of the rock, dark-haired was still grunting and struggling with climbing.
As I made my way down, I called out to him.
“How’s it going, Macho man?”