The first time I came into contact with climbing was when I was 12. It was at a school camp and we were all introduced to the basics of it and the belay system and how it all works. I was a shy kid. I was insecure, afraid of failure and judgement by other kids in my class and being the fat kid in the class, I didn't want to fail at yet another sport and then have everyone laugh at me for being adventurous. So in the end, when the instructors asked for volunteers, I quietly snuck to the back of the group.
The second time I came into contact with climbing was when Chan introduced it to me in 2013, less than a year ago. For the first time in my life, I was more self-assured and confident. I wasn't worried about people judging me for failing at a sport. I wasn't worried about jesting and bullying and for once, I felt comfortable enough to just try at something and fail spectacularly at it. I'm quite a klutz. And not the fittest most athletic person out there. It was a safe zone. It also helped greatly that he was really helpful in pointing out tips and teaching me the basics. He was encouraging, optimistic and nice. If you are bringing someone new and introducing them to climbing for the first time, it is really important to be encouraging, nonjudgemental and basically ooze a happy and good vibe. It really helps with the process.
I started my climbing experience with bouldering. The first place I ever climbed was at "The Cave" in Kansas city and that was where I climbed regularly (about 1/week or 2/week) for about 3 months before I really hurt my wrist and I couldn't climb for another 5 months. I first started off on VB routes and I couldn't even get onto the wall and progress for more than 2 moves from the start hold. It was quite a let down. But, I went back again 1 week later and I got up by another 2 more moves. Another week passed by and I actually started finishing VB routes. Another few more weeks passed and I actually managed to start working on V0 routes. I loved going to the gym, working hard at my routes and just recognizing the fact that even though i wasn't getting strong fast, I was indeed getting stronger. It was a revelation. It was a euphoric experience and I kept going back. Nothing beats coming home from the gym feeling sore in places you never felt sore before and getting a good workout while having fun just relaxing with your friends in the gym.
After I hurt my wrist (it was bad enough that I couldn't eat with my right arm for 2 weeks straight and I couldn't supinate my wrist without it hurting for a month or two), I had to take a long break from climbing. I couldn't do any problems without feeling a sharp pain shoot up my right arm. I took a 5-6 month long break in the end and when I got back to climbing I was back to VB standard again.
I really enjoy my time at the Strength Lab because they have walls that go on a certain angle throughout the whole route. There were steeper angles with nice big jugs to work on and I got stronger a lot faster than when I climbed at the cave. If i'm not wrong, I started climbing in October 2013 and I managed to get to V2s by January 2014. It might be slow to some of you out there. But it feels like such a huge accomplishment for me and that sense of accomplishment keeps fueling me to try harder. The problems get so much more interesting the harder you climb and I really enjoy the challenge and the experience of just obsessing about a route that I'm trying to complete. It's a love/hate relationship.
So, this is my not so brief introduction to my brief climbing history and I hope that I didn't bore you too much. Next post will be on my first pair of climbing shoes! Chan will start contributing his piece soon.