Saturday, August 14, 2010

Western North Carolina Adventure Day Three First Climb

I wake up. It's wet. I'm wet, my sleeping bag is wet. Barb and her gear looks perfectly dry. I never known what drives what lap lane, bed, site of the tent Barb wants to be on but now I'm wondering about the innocence of Barb's quirks.

The forecast is a bit dicey for the rest of the day so Lindsay decides to take us to a location that will be suitable under wet conditions. Looking Glass North.

Lindsay prepares to set up our climb. She looks a bit like a Con-Ed worker to me.Lindsay setting up at the very top of the climb.The picture doesn't do justice to the ease with which she ascented and set the course. In fact, there was something alarmingly matter of a factly about it. Lindsay has a combination of expertise, confidence and chillness that makes me forget all the risks assumed when signing REI's 17 page waiver. From the ground, we're fascinated.

So, here's the thing about day one, climb one. Getting off the ground is the hardest part of this climb (it's also a little wet and that doesn't help). Lindsay shows us a "hand jam." I'm going to botch her explanation here (I know I have already mixed up some terminology) but the trick is to stick your hand into a crack and then push out against the sides of the inside of the crack and well, your hand is jammed in there. Lindsay makes it sound and look easy but we all struggle with it and need some sort of leg up. It doesn't help that it's the very first move we've got to master but we all start with gusto.

Deb is up first. Trying out this hand jam thing.See that little spec up top? That's Deb.While Deb is climbing I am using her two day old Android phone to take pictures of her. She has very little programmed in there so I change her wallpaper to a picture of her rock climbing and play with a few other settings. This is outdoor adventure at it's finest.

Next up, Barb. I can sense how keen she is to conquer this hand jam thing. In fact, she cheers before she starts.Jamming her handThen Elizabeth gives it a go. Like the rest of us she struggles with the first part hand jam but before we leave the climb site she is the only one among us to have made it past "Part One" entirely on her own so mad props to Elizabeth. Regrettably there are no pictures.

And then, I'm up.Like the others, I'm thinking "I'll be the one to get this damn hand jam thing. No leg up from Lindsay for me." I'm also the tallest in this group and I wonder if that will help any. I try. And try. And try, willing my hand to jam. It just doesn't quite do it. Damn hand.Eventually, I make it up higher. While this isn't the most flattering of angles for anyone it shows how the rock holds you. I didn't quite grasp the concept of trusting the rock until the next day, but I see it in this picture.Apparently at 50 feet up I'm hilarious. And I curse a lot. I really have no idea what I said so I regret I can't share the laughs with you, reader, but I know my girls were giggling on the ground (If any of you read this and remember, do comment). After the trip Lindsay wrote to us "I near peed my pants Jamie's top notch commentary 50 ft up."

As all of us ascented the resounding remark was something along the lines of "Shit, this is hard" (I was probably the only one who swore when expressing the sentiment but this is my blog, so I describe what I recall). I don't think any of us expected it to be easy, but perhaps the nature of the challenge was different than anticipated.

I was pleased with the extent to which my brain and body connected and made the moves happen as Lindsay described. I was able to listen, process and respond and the integration of skills and everything working in Concert felt fantastic.

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