Monday, July 13, 2009

Telluride....I ROCK CLIMBED!!!

As we drove by, Matt pointed up and said, "That's where you will be rock climbing this week." I looked up and thought, "Hmmmmm that doesn't look too bad."

When climbing day arrived, we pulled off the main road and went a short way down a "side" road. We pulled up in front of the rock and I felt the excitement. (You can click on the pictures to enlarge them. Matt is about 5' 11" tall so you can get some perspective.)

Irv decided to stay by the car and not hike to the rock with us. His hip has really been bothering him and the hike was a bit steep and some of it was on loose rock. Irv started getting the camera ready, Matt grabbed his bag, I searched for and found my courage and off we went!

The closer we got to the rock, the more little nervous flutters I started feeling. We zigged and zagged as we hiked up the steep hill to the rock and soon we were there....Matt all happy and me huffing and puffing! I looked up at the rock and in the fashion of "The Little Engine That Could", I heard a little voice in my head saying, "I can do this. I can do this."

In order for me to climb, Matt had to climb up the rock himself first and hook up the pulley/rope system to metal "eyelets" that were already in the top of the rock. He put on his harness and climbing shoes, took all kinds of equipment with him and up he went...not connected to anything...nothing to catch him if he fell. Watching Matt climb and then seeing him up at the top, I realized this was NOT going to be quite as easy as I had hoped.

After getting the system all set up, Matt repelled back down. "Okay, let's get you set up." It was a process, one that you could tell he had done many times. I stepped into my elaborate harness and Matt helped me tighten it. Everything he did came with an explanation of how and why. He took his time and made sure I understood how things worked.

He tied the figure 8 knot that would keep me safe, and then he had me untie it and tie it again myself. He checked it and rechecked it.

I put on my fancy little climbing shoes, we checked everything again and it was time to see if I could get my fat butt off the ground. That was my goal and I hoped that Irv could get at least one picture from the road so everyone could see me achieve that goal.

The idea is to locate places to hold onto with your hands, then find places to put your feet and then pull yourself up...hands, feet, repeat....over and over and over again.


It wasn't too bad at first until I looked down. Not only was I seeing where Matt was at the base of the rock, I was seeing the 75 feet further down where Irv was, AND I was seeing another 20 feet down to the main road AND I was seeing the valley on the other side of the main road. I felt like I was high in the sky and now I needed to pee!!!

I kept working at it and I could hear the little voice saying, "I'm doing it! I'm doing it!"

I paused when I reached this larger slab of rock and asked Matt, "Where do I go?"

He said, "To the right."

"But how do I get over there?"

"Walk along the ledge."

This was the first point where I actually felt scared. The ledge was big enough to walk across, but there was no where to hold on. The rock in front of my face was smooth. You can see me trying to find a spot to hold on under the rock!

Take a second and stand facing a wall....get as close as you can. Now imagine that the floor is a ledge about 20 feet in the air and not a floor. Now, with nothing to hold onto with your hands, shuffle your way along the "ledge". You get the idea?

I was happy and relieved when I got across, but still scared. I started groping around for a handhold and couldn't find one to continue my journey. The next rock was smooth. I had to have something to hold onto and I wasn't finding anything.

I tried to find somewhere that I might be able to put my foot to lift myself a little higher so I might find something but no such luck.

I had watched Matt when he went up, but he had taken a different route . He had suggested I try this route because the other was a bit harder. I looked down again and shouldn't have. It looked so high and with nothing to hold onto I decided I was done.

I was disappointed that I had not made it to the top so I could "slap" the pulley....the sign of a completed climb, but I was proud of myself for stepping WAY out of my comfort zone and trying something new at the age of 57!

I put my emotions aside because I still had to get down! Matt told me to walk across the ledge again and get to where the rope came down......carefully.....I crept.

When I got to the rope, Matt said, "Okay mom, now this is where you need to trust me and the rope. Let go and lean back."

"WHAT??? Can't I just climb down?

"You can if you want to."

"Dammit! No, I'll do it the right way. Tell me again!"

So, I put my arms out and leaned back. I could hear Matt saying, "More," and I thought he was nuts, but little by little I leaned until I fell back away from the rock. As I swung back toward the rock, I pushed off with my feet as Matt lowered me down, down, down to the ground.


I had very mixed emotions when I "landed". Happy, sad, excited, mad, proud and disappointed.

Matt was proud of me though and his smile told me I had done a good job! When I said I was pissed that I didn't finish, he said we could always go again.

Matt had to climb back up to undo the pulley system. This time he took the route I took and I watched his every move. When he got to my stopping point, he looked, felt around, paused and then he took one of his feet and placed it about 3 feet up on an adjacent rock. He pushed himself up with his foot and reached a place where he could hold on and pulled himself up.

After seeing what he did, I didn't feel so bad. Not only would I have never thought to do that, I don't think I could have done it if I wanted to! When Matt came back down, I commented on how he did that and he said it did get a bit "dicey" at that spot.

So.....that is the story of my first and probably my only rock climbing experience and all I can say is "CHEE HOO! I DID IT!!!"


Angela said...

Great job! That really looks like fun....and Chee Hoo? Have I missed the explanation?

Beth Anderson said...

Wow - pat yourself on the back girl! You're braver than me.

Lanyardlady said...

You are officially my idol! Great story, great photos, and most of all, a great experience for you to be so proud of!

aliceinparis said...

Chee Hoo, you sure did!!! Way to go:))

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