Saturday, October 4, 2008

conquering my fears (part deux)

if looks could kill, then i would have gladly wanted to see my companion slowly melt away into a soup of bubbling goo, but alas, i was not blessed with such handy powers.

we arrived at power up, ortigas at SM silver city a few minutes early. that gave us time to chill and familiarize ourselves with the place as well as the wall. with him nervously giggling behind me, both of us took a moment to assess what we REALLY got ourselves into. admittedly, i am no climbing virgin (amongst other things). i had already had some experience before with a few friends way back at power plant mall so i had already an idea of what to expect. but looking at the height and scale of this wall, it made it feel like all that previous experience meant NOTHING! effing absolutely nothing.

at exactly 2, we were attended by the guy manning the site. we filled up our forms, took our harnesses and picked our shoes. while my friend was utterly elated in having picked a purple pair and amused that his feet looked (and felt) like he was a ballerina, having boat sized feet, i was not enjoying the fact that my appendages was cramped into such tight quarters. a few minutes later, our instructor arrived. his name, amusingly was niknok. i'm pretty sure this is a nickname, but either way, how he got that name would definitely be an amusing story. (i would also like to say that he was cute, very cute in fact... but would rather not talk about it since i would just most probably fall into an incoherent, mindless babble)

we were standing in front of the beginner wall and were instructed of the responsibilities of a proper climber, as well as a proper belayer, the belayer being that guy who holds onto the rope that keeps you from a very ugly death if in case you fall. after making sure that we understood the instructions perfectly, our instructor asked that we have a volunteer climber while the other one practices belaying. like in most things in life, i found myself being the guinea pig. i walked slowly towards the wall, held onto the fiberglass rock holds and gave them a greeting in my head.... hello wall.... can we be friends? a few minutes later, i was looking at ant sized people below while i was ready to be rappelled down from the top. beginner wall.... CHECK!

i told my friend before that the best part of wall climbing is not really the climb, but is actually when u get lowered back down. told them before, and this is really gonna sound cheesy, but the first time i climbed and was asked to "let go" (the signal to be lowered), you really have to let go. you learn then also to let go of everything, problems, anxieties, everything negative and just feel light and free, and trust your life onto the person who has hold of you. its a liberating experience actually... of course, my friend just looked at me weird like i was lost in my own thoughts for a moment there. bastard, i said under my breath :) these young ppl, no respect for elders...

with me belaying this time, it was my friends turn to climb. he was shorter and lighter than me so he scaled the wall faster. he had a few problems reaching some of the stones at certain stages due to his short arm span but generally, he climbed rather well. i would have liked to study his moves better but i was more focused really on keeping an eye on him while pulling on the rope. its actually more nerve wracking belaying than climbing since as the belayer, the safety of the climber depends on you not fucking up! of course it did not help my concentration that my instructor had eyelashes that reached the heavens and impeccable skin! needless to say, i had to muster all my strength to focus on the task, even if it also meant thinking unsexy thoughts just to get the job done right.

after having finally lowered my friend to terra firma with no serious mishap, both of us decided to up the ante and try the intermediate wall. the only difference between the two is that a greater part of this wall is at an incline so you have more of your weight to pull. by the time you reach about 20 feet up or so, thats the only time the wall goes back to a vertical.

i was first up the wall again. as i slowly went up, our instructor called out which stones to hold on to and what foot or hand to put where, very important since fatigue when ur at that height can be very disorienting. as i got to about 20 feet, i could feel my arms start to burn. my butt was getting tired as well but i didnt want to quit yet. thankfully so, all that punishment i do to myself working out at the gym felt worse than this, so i knew i still had some juice left in me. i just have to pace myself, i thought, and not slip. i had a close call while i was up there but fortunately, was able to keep my hold. a few more feet later, and i was finally at the top. i was tired, wet but the feeling of exhilaration was indescribable! i would have never thought that i could make it and the fact that i did made it even feel more special. the squirt, the dork, the nerd, the oddball, the fag, got to the top.

my friend trying the intermediate wall

me, almost there... calling for mommy to help me!

when climbing, other than the fear of heights, fatigue is ur number one enemy. my friend was not able to finish this wall as he had exhausted himself out apparently with the previous climb. we tried to rest for a few minutes and try again but to no avail. when your muscles go on strike... no labor union can convince them back. i too was feeling the pinch since belaying also required a lot of arm strength as you keep pulling on the rope with your climber's body weight at the other end. at the end of the 3 hours, we decided to call it a day.

i really loved this whole experience. not only was it a departure from my usual daily routine, but it was also a great mental hiatus from the hustle and bustle of life and all the stresses it offers. i definitely would do this again! any one interested of coming with? :)

No comments: