Saturday, January 2, 2010

3. Try rock climbing (in Nepal!)

Although rocking climbing is definitely on The List, I thought it would be something I'd try for the first time this spring or summer in VERMONT. But, I failed to think about two key facts. First, Nepal is pretty much the climbing capital of the world, and second, I am staying with what I am sure is the most adventure-inclined and athletic family in all of the US government's foreign service employ. Cliff, Nicole and Jai practice rock climbing at least weekly, and so they invited their guests (there are now three of us. The new additions are an awesome couple, Jane and Kirt, who arrived New Year's Day from Wisconsin) to join them. After enthusiastically cheering people on and obligingly recording my very first climb on camera, Jane and Kirt went out to see the amazing sights of the area, which is called Thamel and contains the hostels, restaurants and zillions of shops that house, feed and supply most of the visitors coming to Nepal to climb and trek. But I stuck around for my first session at rock climbing with some fabulous coaching.

As you can see from one of the photos, ALL of the family are experts including Jailyn who has already graduated from the children's to the adult climbing wall at the ripe old age of four. She very thoughtfully started my first climb in tandem with me -- it's a little humbling (but actually a lot of fun) to have a four year old reminding you to trust the rope! Although both Cliff and Nicole are outstanding climbers, Nicole only started a year ago (Cliff's been at it for many years, and used to climb as a Saint Mike's undergrad in Vermont), and she was infinitely patient with my first-time attempt.

Here are the things I learned about rock climbing in my three climbs of the morning:
1. Jailyn is right -- you can trust the rope and if you slip, it will catch you. I think there is a little life lesson in there somewhere.
2. Rock climbing asks a lot of your body. You have to use your arms and legs and fingers and toes, and really stretch in all directions. And you have to concentrate on that and nothing else to figure out what to do next.
3. It helps to have awesome teachers and if possible, a small child, as inspiration. I included this photo of Nicole talking me through the first climb and Jai going up in tandem with me, because they were a huge part of why it was such a cool experience.
4. Perhaps most important, rock climbing is REALLY fun. I fell on the first of the three climbs I did, and it was a good thing. Once I knew the rope would catch me, it was easier to concentrate on going up, and there is a ton of satisfaction in going higher than you did the time before and trying new challenges in each move up. I didn't make it to the top of the wall, but on my last climb I went most of the way (on an easy route) and was up almost 40 feet, which looked like a long way once I was back on the ground. I highly recommend it as something for everyone to try and will very DEFINITELY be doing this again back in Vermont! I am very excited to learn some more and then try it in the great outdoors.


  1. Go you! There's a wall that looks similar to this one in the Fitness Center at UVM...

  2. I love this post! Though I have a feeling that I will be saying that after everyone! Congrats on learning to trust the rope!