Friday, April 17, 2009

Do These Shoes Make Me Look Canadian?

While I was couch-surfing at Smith, Miranda introduced me to the Smith climbing wall. A few years back, I had gone with KT and Nicole to the climbing wall at SUNY Cortland where I could not get up the wall and destroyed my arm muscles. For some reason, I still thought it was amazing. I decided that I would start going to the climbing wall at Smith. And then I decided I should eat some snacks instead. Two years later, I found myself addicted to the climbing wall. I think it's because I'm generally a lot more fit and spry than I used to be, so it's actually easier now. I love the Smith wall and the way that they have so many vertical paths, with a user-friendly Taco Bell rating system.

I remember reading a short story in English class sophomore year of high school just after my grandmother had died that was about the first experience of death. When you first experience death, when your grandma dies and you go to your first wake and funeral, you always remember it. It becomes your basis for judging death. It's what it should be like. And that's how I feel about the Smith climbing wall. It is my basis. I judge every other climbing wall in comparison to Smith. I don't care if the wall I'm at is three or four times as large, if it doesn't have a ton of rated vertical climbs, I'm so disappointed by it.

This is the Smith wall with my friend Kristina climbing and I believe a girl bouldering on the left. The red and white lines are the bouldering lines. Bouldering is climbing horizontally without being attached to the ropes. It is by no means my favorite way to climb.

When I went to visit Lauren in New Paltz, we went to the climbing gym in town. It was pretty huge, but still not Smith. They also gave surprisingly few instructions--especially on how to belay, which is why it's a good thing they had me as the belayer clipped into the floor.

Another thing that gets me is when I cannot tell the difference between a bouldering traverse and a vertical climb by the tape. When you climb the wall, you don't just use any holds, you try to climb only the holds in a particular path which is marked by colored tape. At Smith, at the bottom of a rope there is a guide to all of the paths--what color the tape is, what the name is, and what its rating is. I have not really experienced this anywhere else.

But now it's time that I get used to my new climbing wall at the Plattsburgh gym. Generally, I'm an optimist and a pretty cheerful person, but the Plattsburgh gym can beat that out of you. This is primarily a bouldering wall so there aren't too many vertical climbs and a lot of the time, it is difficult to sort them out from the bouldering routes. Also, it's populated by a lot of boys. Blegh. Getting into the climbing wall is no picnic either. When you go to the sign-in desk at the gym, you are bombarded with stimulation. The desk faces just the wrong way so that you cannot hear anything they are saying through the din of gym machines. Because they thought it was a good idea to put the pool on top of the gym, the gym is always a cool 85 degrees as well. The desk has up to seven people behind it, all of whom are folding towels except for the one person pointedly ignoring you. When I first got shoes for the wall, they asked me what size I needed. Knowing that climbing shoes almost always come/are labelled in European sizes I asked for a 37. "We only go up to fourteen" he replied.
"Well, uh, what kind of sizes are they? That's not the way climbing shoes are normally sized."
"It is here in the States, Ma'am."

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I am so addicted to climbing now it's not even funny. I go at least 4 times a week and even dragged my parents there. I wish you were gonna be on LI for some of the summer, because Hal and I are gonna get a 1-month membership to the climbing gym in Plainview and carpool there several times a week! I also just googled climbing in Prague and there is this place called Boulder Bar that is a BAR with a BOULDERING ROOM attached. AHHHH HOW COOL THIS THAT YOU HAVE TO COME VISIT ME!!!!!