From the Field: Rock Climbing (Sunnyvale)

ClimbingBelay

This week’s submission is an essay written by Stroller Hikes intern Elia Chen, who you may recall contributing to the newsletter four times last year.  We couldn’t resist sharing with you her experience climbing from about a week ago.  See http://strollerhikes.com/events/ to see when the next indoor rock climbing event is scheduled, which is geared for ages 3-7.  Photo at at right by Melissa Jankowski from one of last year’s climbing events.

This week, I joined Debbie and Max for some indoor rock climbing at Planet Granite. Although this was my first time rock climbing, I found it to be a very enriching experience, and I am sure that kids will love it.

            At first, I was not expecting much. After all, from the outside, Planet Granite seemed like just another unassuming building on a street lined with trimmed trees and corporate offices. But I was wrong. As soon as I entered, I was surrounded by huge, stocky boulders and steep, 60 foot tall beam-like slabs of wall. I had never seen anything like them before. The boulders and walls were just so big, steep, and colorful. And by colorful, I mean that they had red and blue and orange and pink splotches on them; it looked like someone had splashed paint all over them. I was shocked.

            However, I soon got over my shock, and Debbie, being the experienced rock climber that she is, helped me with my harness. I later learned through observation that the splotches that I saw on the wall were actually foot and hand holds. The first time I climbed the wall, I scurried up halfway to the top before I looked down, and I almost had a heart attack. I was about thirty feet off the ground, and just the sight of the floor way down below made me dizzy. But I quickly regained myself and did what Debbie told me—to trust my belayer. In case you don’t know, the belayer is the person pulling the rope that is attached to the climber so that in case the climber falls, he or she will be suspended by the rope. After that, I made it to the top easily.

            I thought that this experience was very fun, and I am sure that kids and their parents will enjoy it. Although I did a 5.7 climb (Planet Granite clearly marks the grade of each climb), climbs range from 5.1 to 5.15, so if a child struggles with a 5.7, he or she can always move to a simpler climb, with bigger holds that are closer together, and still have fun. And if a child is scared, he can always come down whenever he would like since he or she is belayed. Overall, I think that this is also a great trust-building activity and a fun way to overcome a fear of heights.

-Elia Chen

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