Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Change in Plans!!!

Although my friend Ofelia and I were supposed to hike to the top of Yosemite Falls yesterday to work off that Thanksgiving meal (and what a great meal it was!!), she woke up with a screaming headache and didn't feel like hiking up one of the hardest trails in Yosemite.  Since I had been up since 4:00 am agonizing over the turkey dinner prepared by an Escapees RV group at the Los Banos Fairgrounds, I wasn't too disappointed!!!  Later in the morning, Ofie called and asked if I was up to climbing.  I NEVER turn down a chance to climb, so we made arrangements to go to the new Metal Mark climbing gym in Fresno.  She invited her son-in-law-to-be Ryan to go with us since he had the day off, Ofie's daughter Nina had to work at Mercy Hospital.  Since climbing must be done in pairs, another friend Scott was invited.
Before you are allowed to climb at a facility, you must sign your life away (yes, it is a dangerous sport if you act stupid and don't follow the rules), then they actually give you a test to see if you know what you are doing when it comes to attaching your harness and stopping a climber who has fallen.  Your partner is your belayer ... you free climb up the wall while they keep the slack out of your rope.  If you do fall, they can stop your descent easily and fast, so you only crack your knee and elbow on the wall!! They pretty much have your life in their hands.  For safety they do have a 12" thick cushion on the entire floor ... just in case your belayer isn't paying attention!!
You can see all the colored stickers on the walls by the hand and foot holds.  They indicate which holds are related to the climb rating.  Climbs are rated from 5.5 to 5.13 (and some even higher) by their difficulty.  Higher difficulty means smaller (teeny tiny) hand and foot holds, much farther apart!  The other very important thing to note at this gym is that all the climbs have one or two overhangs, meaning the walls are slanted OUT at the top.  I didn't realize this at first.  It didn't take me long to go find the TWO straight walls when I got tired!!!  I'm at the top of a 5.7 wall here with Ofelia belaying me.  You definitely want to have TRUST in your belayer.   Oh and you can cheat ... you can use any hold you want if you get tired ... but it's more fun to try and stick to the difficulty level.
I got up to 5.8 ... next time I'll start with 5.8 and try a few 5.9's.  It's tough when you feel like you are almost upside down.  When you are hanging at a 45 degree angle, pushing with your feet and clinging with your fingernails, it's hard to let go and reach for another hold without fear of falling off.   Yes, I've seen guys (and girls) climb literally parallel to the ground upside down!!!  Pretty sure I won't have to worry about that though!!  I'm belaying Ofie here ... she's on a 5.10 route.
Ryan up higher, climbing the same route Ofie just climbed.  You could blow both of them over with a feather they are so skinny ... but all muscle!!!  The bags hanging off their backs are for ground chalk.  You put quite a bit on your hands before you start to climb (and during if you need to) ... it helps you hold on to the rocks without slipping.  
They also have crack climbs.  Ofie and I don't like crack!!!!!  But Scott likes trying the hard stuff.  You insert your hand into the crack, turning your wrist and spreading your fingers so your hand is the anchor that holds you up.  Unfortunately, your hands end up a bloody mess ... the walls are concrete!!!
Since it was Black Friday, we asked if they had any membership specials ... and sure enough, they waived the $100 initiation fee and gave us a discounted Teacher/Instructor membership deal that Ofie and I couldn't turn down.  After four hours, we headed off for dinner at Chipotle Restaurant, but Ofie and I will be back soon ..............

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