PANIC BEAR

cindy-chen-161348

Finally getting around to writing a bouldering post.

I always knew that I really loved that tree climbing part of my childhood.  We lived out in the country for many years so being out in nature, digging & climbing around was a normal activity.  We also went to the same campground Summer after Summer & I climbed many a tree there as well.  The memory of how I felt when I climbed has always stayed with me.  Similar to the peace I receive during vinyasa, my brain just shuts off & I find a deep purpose in just moving & being.

Outdoor rock climbing never really appealed to me, it all looked just too complicated & hard!  I recently started following different yogis who posted videos of themselves doing something called “bouldering” & I was instantly intrigued.   Most of these yogis do a lot of inversions very successfully so it seemed like a good way to cross train & build that upper body strength.  Here are some initial short observations:

*There are no ropes or harnesses.

*The walls are at 15 foot or lower.

*The floors are padded.

*You wear special shoes.

*You can do it both indoor at a bouldering gym or outdoors if you’re really crazy.

There had been a climbing/yoga gym on my radar because it was somewhat nearby, just a couple small cities over, & about a 15 minute drive from home.  It had been something that floated on the outskirts of my mind, but seeing it so much on Instagram made me get really interested in it.

That & a new student & I were talking about it & he had some extra passes.  That helped.

Starting a new adventure like this is scary!  Like the days leading up to my yoga teacher training program I found my mind filled with all kinds of doomful futuristic thoughts like, what if everyone knows I’m new?  Or, what if I fall on my ass?  And, what if I suck?  And much more of course.  Isn’t that how it always is with pushing yourself out of your comfort zone?  I see it a lot in classes I teach.  I’m always filled with a deep gratitude for students who walk in under a cloud of fear of the unknown.  I am always rooting for them because I know how it feels.

Luckily my desire to try it outweighed my fears.  What I’ve learned in the past two months since I’ve been bouldering on a 2 to 3 times a week basis:

*There is a term climbers use for a person who gets caught at the top of the wall, unsure how to get down & very tired:  Panic Bear.  Yes, I’ve been a panic bear.  It’s not fun.  It’s either grind out the down climb or jump!

*You climp UP then you climb DOWN.  Rock climbers rapel down whereas boulderers (is that a word?!) down climb.  This takes A LOT out of you.  The days after I bouldered the first time it seemed like every single last cell in my fingers, hands, arms, & shoulders were gong to be sore forever.  I struggled to take caps off pens and any other tasks you use your fingers for.  Also many people will hop off of the wall after getting pretty low to the ground.  I’m turning 40 in a week & I don’t want a ton of forceful compression like this on my knees so I try to always climb all the way down, unless I’m being a panic bear, lol.

*Shoes are a major thing part 1:  I rented the shoes at first at $6 a session.  I wanted to spend some time renting shoes because I didn’t know if I would really love bouldering or not.  After realizing I did love it I started looking for climbing shoes online.  After realizing they were muy expensive I started to research used climbing shoes.  I found a seller on craigslist selling 4 pairs at various sizes.  Research online had told me that it’s common for climbers to size down one or two sizes.  Basically if I’m an 8 & a half I might try 7 & a half or gasp 6 & a half?  Ouch.  I guess climbers like their shoes to fit tightly so they can really…… okay uh, I still don’t get this whole part all the way.  Stay tuned.

*Shoes are a major thing part 2:  Soooo I got some 7.5’s & damn gina these hurt my tootsies to no end.  I started noticing people taking their shoes off in between climbs.  I wondered if everyone at the gym was suffering like me!  I kept researching & finally came across the absolute best online article (which I can’t find or I’d link it here) that said in part, why are all the climbers killing their feet?  Get shoes that just fit like a glove.  So this really resonated with me, I couldn’t even focus on climbing because of theses tight shoes.

*Shoes are a major thing part 3:  This is getting silly now, but for me finding the right shoes really made me feel more confident.  Remember that climber student?  He had told me about this mecca called Next Adventure.  OMG this place!  I loved it!  They had new stuff on the main level & all sorts of used adventure gear in their basement.  Climbing shoes galore!  So affordable!  Even kids climbing shoes if H ever wants to tag along someday.  So I got a great pair that fit like a glove & feet are happy.  I do take them off between climbs as they are still a wee bit tight.  Lastly, I’ve been playing around with sockless climbs.  It feels very gross but I do have to say I can ‘feel’ the holds a bit better.

*Still on the same subject of the feet, my feet that feel so nimble & graceful during yoga, feel like awkward, wandering vestages  during climbs.  What in the hell are my legs & feet doing?!  This is a thought I often think during climbs.  And, look here legs & feet, arms & hands are killing themselves here, the least you could do is be a little more graceful!  C’mon!  Nope.  They just kind of flail around sometimes.  Plus, I’m hyper focus on the area around my eyes as I don’t want to be a panic bear or FALL DOWN.  I have seen some climbers hold their feet against the wall or even get some traction with the rubber undersold of their shoes until the foot can contact with a hold.  These climbers are usually the ones looking like they are doing a quick climbing ballet up & down the wall.

*Bouldering is humbling.  One day I went on the side of the gym that is kind of hidden so I could try a V3 hopefully mostly unseen.  I fell off on hold 3 to 5 (fourth of the way up) each time.  What I decided to be a 13 year old girl walked by me and flew up it in 5 seconds flat.  It kind of feels good to be so humbled.  I’m a beginner & I’m mostly okay with that.  I still experience a wall of fear when I park in the lot before walking in.  Climbers all sit & rest in between climbs & if you don’t have your phone with you there’s not much else to do besides watch what’s right in front of you which is other people climbing.  So this has been good for me to face my fear of failure & to let go (but hold on, lol).

*I got climbers arm.  Two weeks ago I started experiencing a fiery pain in my right elbow.  Back to the internet I went & I learned about a plethora of injuries one can get from climbing.  A severe case of climbing arm can force you to stop climbing for months.  Many recommended a serious work out before climbing which I had not been doing at all!  I found some good techniques & now head over to the workout section of the gym & take 15 minutes to warm up before beginning to climb.  I had also been pushing myself too hard.  I wouldn’t rest that much between climbs.  I would sometimes only go for a half hour so would think that I had to get as much climbing in as I could.  The sweet spot for me is to allow at least an hour for a climbing session.  I warm up for 15, I rest a lot, & I get plenty of climbs in.

*I’m afraid of heights!  When I get to the top of the wall at about 15 feet high, whether the route is easy or no, my heart starts beating fast, fear sweats the chalk off of my hands, & I start shaking!  So sometimes I don’t even go to the top.  I just suss out that I can get to the top hold then I head down.  Maybe this will pass, but it’s a thing right now.

I’m sure there’s more, another post or threaded into a different post later on.

Oh yeah, I got a new job!  It’s at the bouldering gym!!!!!!  I’ll teach Fridays at 7pm, I’m pretty stoked.  Climbing & yoga go together like peanut butter & jelly so I’m excited to teach there.

Wishing/hoping/vibing that all of you out there on the interwebs find a way to face a fear or embark on a new adventure soon.

Peace, love, & namaste~