Saturday, August 14, 2010

Western North Carolina Adventure Day Three Second Climb

Lindsay sets the course
Barb is up first.When you climb you're clipped into the course and harnessed. So, when you "fall" in rock climbing it's more like you pull off the road. Like this:
So you can imagine the surprise when Barb falls like this:

Holy shit, she's hanging upside down!
Terror and amusement cohabitate my emotional space
This isn't supposed to happen - is it?

Is Barb OK? Well, she's laughing.

The picture above, by the way, is Barb right side up rotated 180 degrees. Unfortunately, this moment was not captured digital though it is deeply imprinted in my memory. What I do have is someone filming the lowering of Barb, still laughing so hard it sounds like high pitched donkey.
video

You're not supposed to hang upside down when you fall. I don't think any of us (guide included) really know how or why it happened. Barb's harness was a little loose (and as soon as the guide mentioned that I, with both feet on the ground, tightened my harness very much the way I tighten my seatbelt when there's turbulence on a plane. There's that moment of, hmmm, I might need this thing to work).

When Barb "lands" (still laughing) Lindsay tighten her seatbelt (full service guide - later on, she'll put on my shoes!)
video
My theory is as follows. Barb's natural state is upside down (see pics below). So, when she was "falling" she was like a cat who manages to land on all fours. But instead, Barb lands in a handstand.




Once we got Barb right side up and on the ground Lindsay did make a few adjustments to there course.

Without fear, Deb takes on the course. If I were Deb, this would be my rock climbing profile pic. Totally bad-ass, no?
And then I'm up. I decide to give this one a try with my Vibrams. When I run up hills in Vibrams I can feel my toes curling to grab onto the earth. The first time my toes did this it felt very primal and monkey-like. Monkey's are good climbers, maybe this will help.

Turns out it doesn't help. Lindsay concludes I need all five toes together as a team. In order not to interrupt my "progress" Lindsay changes my footwear for me. I feel like I'm twelve trying on velcro sneakers at Stride Rite.

The next section of the course involves kinesthetic sensibilities I'm digging deep to find. I'm willing my body, brain and mind to work together.
video
As awesome as this appears, I am not hanging from the ceiling of a rock formation (though there is something Bat-womanly about it). I just couldn't orient the video, but in this case that worked in my favor. I hate that this ends with me letting go, but this is so much harder than it looks. And, at a certain point, I decided resting while someone else took a turn increased my odds of moving on up the rock.

Note the double belay on this course. If Liz falls asleep on the job (I know her eyes are closed because she is probably laughing) Deb is tied in too.

Liz, the ever patient belay(er)? (verb or noun?) runs up the course.

And just as we're winding down, the rain follows us down the mountain.


Barb's in air handstand was one of the defining moments of the trip. I had a good, deep real (much needed) belly laugh. Though, a small part of me was completely unnerved by that one moment when I wasn't sure Barb was OK and I could sense remnants of my fear in my laughter.

It was one of those moments that you'll laugh about as hard weeks after it happened as you did the moment it happened. I am actually laughing out loud right now just thinking about it. I never use "LOL" in any of my electronic communications or otherwise but at this moment it is apt.

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