Social Climbing

Posted by on February 28, 2019

Social Climbing

This week, I tried something new. And difficult. And less dangerous than it looks. I went to High Point Climbing gym where the walls are 55 feet tall.

My friend and I were novices, but we felt fairly confident while signing the lengthy waiver and putting on our harnesses with some assistance. Once we entered the huge climbing space, we started to get a little nervous and paid very close attention to the short instructions provided by one of the staff.

Once that was over, we donned our climbing shoes, quickly conferred, and left the main climbing area to head for the kid’s section! We tested the auto-belays like we were shown, clipped them to our harnesses, and climbed a wall that was a couple of stories high. When we got to the top, neither of us were willing to let go of the wall and trust the auto-belay to get us to the ground safely. After lengthy discussion, we both climbed down the wall. First attempt? Climbing was a success. Getting down, not so much.

We talked a bit more with the staff and got some reassurances. (One staff member admitted he had to climb down his first time, too, but he wasn’t in kid’s room; he had to climb down a 55′ wall!) So we went back to the kid’s room and tried again. This time at the top of the wall, we took a deep breath and let go into our auto-belays, and…success! We climbed a third wall in the kid’s room and belayed again. We were ready for the big walls.

And climb we did! We chose the easiest climbs, but were able to get to the top and belay down. For being new, we did awesome! We felt very accomplished and surprisingly not very sore.

New experiences come with lots of lessons. Here are some that I was reminded of:

  • Allow yourself to be new
  • Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing (especially the people who aren’t new)
  • New things are easier and more fun with a friend
  • It’s ok to start small
  • Allow people who know stuff to help you
  • It feels reassuring to hear personal stories from people who know stuff
  • At some point, you are going to have to let go and take a leap into the unknown
  • Don’t be discouraged when things don’t go according to plan; take care of yourself, get help, and try again
  • Things get better and easier with practice (although, practice can be tiring!)
  • You don’t have to go from your first small success to expert level; be willing to make incremental progress
  • Celebrate your accomplishments
  • Get pictures so you can show your friends (who, like mine, may say “OMG! Is that YOU?”)

While the final accomplishment sometimes provides the best pictures, it’s the least interesting part of the story! Get out there and try some new things to keep expanding that ever-shrinking comfort zone. At some point there is going to be something you really want to take a chance on, and we need to make sure those trying/failing/trying-again muscles are strong.

What’s something you’ve been wanting to try?

Go do that!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at