Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lead Climbing

Wednesday April 31

This was a fairly draining day as far as work goes, but the Omnivore's Dilemma and 30 Rock keep me pretty occupied. That evening Paul, a coworker, called me and asked if I wanted to go rock climbing up Rock Canyon. The weather was a little sleety, but we decided to go anyway. We hiked up to the "Appendage" and climbed some easy ones for instructional purposes. Paul taught me how to lead climb on a 5.7 called, appropriately, "Lead." After I'd mastered that technique I belayed for him as he lead climbed a 5.8 called "Only Wusses Top Rope the Bulge!" He made it up about half way and got a little scared because he didn't completely trust my belaying skills. I don't blame him. I'm fine with belaying a normal top rope climb, but it's a little different with lead climbing, and I didn't have the rhythm down. After contemplating the pros and cons of falling to his death, Paul decided to descend, and I made up my mind to give it a whirl. I had complete trust in Paul's belaying ability. I made it up okay, but toward the end I got a little stuck in a place with weak footholds, and that sudden fear of death that I had felt in Cottonwood Canyon, many years before as a young teen, gripped my insides tightly. I had once gone up that canyon in Richfield with my cousin and Uncle Danny, and had thought I was pretty cool when I climbed up on the edge of a cliff. The coolness quickly evaporated, however, when I realized I couldn't go up or down. I was stuck between a rock and evisceration on the boulders below, and I distinctly remember my heart throbbing with panicky fear and adrenaline coursing through my veins as I desperately clung to the bouldery surface of the cliff. Luckily, with some coaxing from my uncle, I made it down safely. Now I was roped up with a belayer and faced little threat beyond bumps and bruises, but I still felt an ephemeral flash of that feeling. I gathered my wits and climbed higher to a point that I could anchor in. That day was a great accomplishment for me, having lead climbed my first two climbs ever. Later that night I went hot tubbing with Greg and Ethan at the Villa.


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