Last Wednesday the middle of August we went to Markham rock climbing at The Hub with friends a plenty along for the ride. We were in a newish black Dodge caravan. Casie was there, and so was Joel, and Martin and Steven Branco and ..
The smell of the Amicos deluxe pizza from Parkdale still lingers in that van, wherever it is now.
We went straight up the Don Valley Parkway at rush hour all the way to Markham and somehow managed to get there in under forty minutes. Reflecting back on the group conversations and laughs in the van, the drive was one of the best parts of the nite.
Registering and watching the Hub Climbing orientation and legal cover-your-ass videos were not. Uggh . Why does everything cool these day require filling out forms and signing waivers? Don’t answer. I know. Somebody somewhere died once and ruined it for everyone.
Now if there’s even a hint of danger there’s a form to fill out. Pretty soon there will be forms and waivers at restaurants when you order shellfish, or more than three drinks.
The danger started immediately – we learned how to fall. First from a small wall and then from a great height.
Bouldering is what rock climbers call traversing or climbing over things without ropes to catch you when you fall (you don’t need them cause the ground is close by and covered in soft foam mats). Bouldering happens on a horizontal plane of stepping stone rocks and Brandon’s orientation shared wisdom regarding the alphanumeric codes and the colour of the rocks. And how to be safe.
Brandon’s Orientation Tour took us all over the gym. He would stop now and then to caution us sternly about where to look up, and why, especially when passing under arches. He used the technical term pancake to describe what could happen here.
And then just like that we were free to climb and explore all the challenges on our own. And we climbed the walls with abandon but of course we were still being supervised as that is the name of this particular activity – Supervised Climbing.
Then we did speed climbs – twenty four feet straight up in …. how many seconds? This wall seems taller than the others. Martin could do it under ten seconds, and Joel did it in 11 seconds.
My time was 18.61 seconds and that was a good score in our group. I’m proud of myself for rising to the challenge in less than twenty seconds.
I probably could have done it faster, but I kind of blew myself out climbing the other walls before I even knew there was a Speed Climb challenge.
Next we tried a bouldering challenge which is the proper name for a length-wise climb without safety ropes across a traverse of boulders. We started on the longest one in the gym, which is also the longest indoor bouldering traverse in Ontario, and maybe all of Canada.. Who knows? The floor is only a few feet away and covered in mats. I made it all the way across in forty seconds.
The static line is a half-step tight rope that’s harder than it looks- i need one of these in my apartment.
At the slide climb wall the climbers can go over the top and then slide down. I helped Casie…
The Dragon is a 23 ft foot plywood sculpture painted two-tone green and covered in small stepping-stone rocks, which everyone here calls boulders. Unfortunately most of the climb is at an acute angle. And therefore impossible.
I’m still there now.
Come visit me and we’ll go bouldering.