I have always wanted to try rock climbing. I figured I would enjoy this activity after all those years of climbing trees as a kid…. because you know, trees and rocks are the same thing, right? So when I was creating my List of 30 before 30, “Try Rock Climbing” was an easy addition. At the time, I envisioned I would take a short lesson on a climbing wall at an indoor gym, which would certainly be fun. But then, lo and behold! In April, the Calgary Climbing Centre (CCC) was offering a full-day Outdoor Beginners’ Rock-Climbing Course through Groupon! After some quick research on the company and calling to inquire about safety and the experience of the instructors, I signed up and booked a spot for June 11 (yesterday). Exciting!
The course took place at the Wasootch Slabs in Kananaskis. A lot of climbing courses occur at Wasootch, and it’s a good spot for beginners. I knew I was in for an interesting rock climbing experience when nature decided to send torrential rain for the drive out to the mountains. Luckily, the CCC sent an equipment list, which included a rain jacket and a warm fleece sweater. Turns out these would definitely come in handy.
I met the group in the parking lot and signed my life away. Apparently there are dangers involved with rock climbing… you know, falling or injuries from rocks or the equipment and such. I love adventures. Safety is so important, but there are always risks. After the sky diving, bungee jumping, and canyon rappelling, I’m familiar with signing waivers and taking full responsibility for my (crazy?) actions. Following introductions, we chose helmets, climbing shoes and harnesses, and we were off to the slabs. And of course, I tried to find the nice gear, because you know, rock climbing is a fashion show like running or fashion shows. Since I signed up on my own, I was partnered with a guy name Mike, who was also on his own. It’s amazing how quickly I trusted him with my life within an hour of meeting!
I won’t get into all the details of the course, but needless to say it was super fun! The instructors, Scott and Robin, were fantastic and emphasized safety the entire time. As the climber, we learned to fix the rope to the harness using a figure of eight loop, and as the belayer, we learned to exert friction and pull in excess rope using a grigri belaying device. Apparently I can take a belay test now! Self, partner, and instructor safety checks were done before every climb, and communication was a key part of climbing safely. There were lots of “Climb On”, “Belay On”, “Take” and “Lower” being yelled throughout the day. Mother Nature decided it would be fun if we learned to climb on rocks while it rained heavily. Maybe it didn’t make for the best conditions, but it was still awesome. And as the rain let up for lunch and the rest of the afternoon, the rocks started drying and we were climbing like pros! Well, not really, but we had a good enough grasp on the basics that we could climb and belay safely.
Overall, my rock climbing experience was fantastic. I would definitely go again, or take a lead climbing course. So many options!! For now though…. Rock Climbing, you are crossed off the list, w00t!