me-climb-at-gunks


I have been gym climbing for more than a year but not until last Saturday did I climb on real rock surfaces. It is not because I didn’t have a chance; my climbing partners, Yaroslav and Heather, have been trying very hard to drag me out to taste the real and Yaroslav even gave me a climbing helmet for birthday present so that I would get inspired. However, weekend after weekend, I chose white water kayaking over rock climbing. Believe me, it was a very tough call. “Why can’t I split myself in half?” I asked myself many times.

Last Saturday, we climbed at Shawangunks – a place every east coast rock climber knows about. Before I even climbed, I was amazed by how crowded the local deli store was. I never knew that rock climbing is such a popular sport, although every time I go to my rock gym it always appears to me that I see more people than the previous time. Well, it seemed that they all came to the store to order a mountain man/woman breakfast sandwich, and a cup of coffee to pump up their climbing gauge. No exception for me, of course.

On that day, I was with Yaroslav and his friend Art. Yaroslav started climbing around the same time as I did; however, his concentration on rock climbing has brought him to a level that is far beyond my ability. Art is from Russia and has been a mountaineer for over 10 years. Climbing with them, I felt safe. They took turns to lead climb up to a pitch and set up anchors so that I could top rope.

This is the story of climbing at Gunks: unless one of the group members knows how to lead, there is no way to top rope. I wanted to contribute to the group instead of just being dependent, but before I acquire any knowledge on setting up protections and before I will not freak out to do tradition lead climbing, the small contribution I could offer is to belay. Huh… I have to admit this embarrassingly, on Saturday I didn’t even belay anybody, the only time I used my ATC was to rappel back down to the ground. I was a spoiled girl for my first rock climb.

So how was my first rock climb? “It is so different” was the first thought came to me. In a gym, even if you might not be able to reach some hand/foot holds, you know exactly where they are, you know you want to get there. Climbing on rock surfaces, where to put your hands and feet are not so obvious, and sometimes you need some trials and errors to settle in. The friction given to the climbing shoe rubber is different – artificial materials cannot simulate natural minerals.

The most worth-mentioning difference is the climbing sensation. We were outside, we breathed in fresh air, and we listened to birds’ chirping. It was simply great, being outdoors. In a gym, I bother about the difficulty rating of the route I climb, I get upset that my performance is not as good as I expected, and I narrow my view to only those hand grips and foot holds. Climbing outdoors, testing my body’s potential seems less important, being in the moment emerges as the primary goal. I still remember how fulfilled my heart was when I looked back after climbing to the top. Trees of red, yellow, and green deployed the most beautiful autumn poem. That is why rock climbing is real. That is why rock climbing is so rewarding.

This is probably my last chance to rock climb for this year, because the crisp air had predicted that it won’t be long to expect the first snow fall. I am happy that I gained this experience in time, because I’m looking for more incentives to get more involved in climbing since I am getting frustrated with my climbing progress and running out of patience to gain my upper body strength. Now, I know, it is worth it to work persistently and patiently, for the outdoor rewards.


在室內岩場爬岩已經一年出頭了,卻遲到上週六才嚐到戶外攀登的滋味。這些日子來,也不是說沒有機會到戶外攀岩,我的忠實繩伴Yaroslav和Heather也早已經催過我不下百次,死拖活拖要把我拉到戶外去吹吹風、散散心,上個月過生日,Yaroslav還送我岩盔希望我早日醍醐灌頂。善哉,也不是小女子真的這麼難請,偏偏我總是必須在划獨木舟和攀岩中間,做個天人交戰的選擇,終究是分身乏術,獨木舟每每戰勝。

上週六,一行人前往紐約州的Shawangunks山區,這是東岸攀岩者間,無人不知無人不曉的攀岩聖地。在我的手腳能夠觸摸到岩石之前,於當地的小雜貨早餐店,已然深深體會到這聖地的名不虛傳。攀岩的盛況,可不只是「人山人海」可以形容。雖然說每次去家附近的室內岩場,總有每次來、每次看到更多人的感覺,但還是直到到了這裡,才真正嘆服攀岩人口的眾多,真是恆河沙數。而每個攀岩者似乎都得起個早,來這家店買個「山男(山女)三文治(mountain man/woman sandwich),喝杯咖啡,打足攀岩元氣才行。在這樣的氣氛醞染下,我也不爭氣地不免俗地點了個山女三文治。

那天的繩伴是Yaroslav和他的朋友Art。Yaroslav和我大約在同時期開始攀岩,不過他不像我貪多嚼不爛,很專心一致地在攀岩這條道路,篤定地向前行,現在他的功力已經不是我可以望及項背的了,慚愧慚愧。Art是從俄羅斯來的,從事mountaineering已經有十年以上的歷史。和他們兩人一起攀岩,我感到十分安心。他們二人輪流lead climb(一路往上爬,一路設定安全裝備),再在頂上設定好裝備,讓我可以以top rope的形式攀岩。

在Gunks(Shawangunks的簡稱)攀岩,就得這樣,除非同行人有個人可以lead climb,要不然是沒辦法以top rope的形式攀岩的。所以那天,我基本上是必須依附我這兩個攀岩伙伴的,我也不想這麼依賴啊,不過在我學好設定保護裝置,以及克服對lead climb的恐懼之前,我也只好當個寄生蟲了。可供安慰的是,我還是可以幫他們確保,表示我對團隊的貢獻,嗯,不過在這裡,我必須很心虛地坦承,那天我居然也沒有幫任何人確保,唯一用到ATC的機會只有個人從頂端降落(rappel)回地表的時候。真怕被他們寵壞了。

所以,我第一次戶外攀岩的感想如何呢?老實說,腦海第一個念頭是,室內室外大不同啊!室內攀登,就算再怎麼搆不著那個該死的捉著點、立足點,你還是知道它們就在那裡,那些點就是你手腳的下一個目標。在戶外,光用看的,有時還真不容易摸清手腳該往哪兒放,總得先跟岩石親熱一番,套套交情,才知道哪裡站得穩,哪裡捉得牢。室內岩場和天然岩壁,給岩鞋摩擦、捉著的感覺也是天差地遠,人工的材質還是沒有辦法模擬天然的觸感。

最值得一提的差異點,還是在攀岩的感覺,簡單講,就是奇檬子啦。身在戶外,呼吸著清新的空氣,聆聽著野鳥的嘹亮,就是耳目一新。人在戶外,身不由己,就是這麼容易放鬆、這麼容易滿足。室內攀登的時候,總是容易計較今天爬的路徑是不是比上一次難,這次的表現和上一次比起來是不是有進步,視線僅僅鎖死在那幾個該死的,想得到搆不著的地方,說有多狹隘就有多狹隘。在戶外攀岩,可以把挑戰自我體能的極限擺到一旁,因為很自然地,盡情享受天然風致成為首要之務。還記得那天爬上頂端,回頭一眺望,心裡頭立刻被滿滿的秋意充塞住,紅的樹、綠的樹、黃的樹,疏疏落落,雜亂中顯出秩序,露出風情。這就是戶外攀岩的真實面,室內攀登比不上的真實面。

這天的戶外攀岩可能也是今年僅有的一次機會了,那日清冽的空氣已經預告著,不用再多等待多少時日,我們就可以期待第一場冬雪了。我很高興能搶在山頭被白雪覆蓋之前,得到戶外攀岩的體驗,如此我有更強的動力在室內岩場,磨練我的攀岩技巧。最近在攀岩進度上的龜速進展,多多少少磨蝕掉不少雄心壯志,也對培養上半身的肌肉強度開始感到不耐。而戶外攀岩的經驗讓我重拾信心,因為一切需要恆心毅力的努力,都會在戶外的某一天得到回饋。而這等待,就算是十年寒窗,也是值得。

Finally, Rock Climbed終於,戶外攀登!

8 thoughts on “Finally, Rock Climbed終於,戶外攀登!

  • October 18, 2006 at 3:13 pm
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    Sounds like you got to the heart of it! For me, at least half the appeal of climbing is the time spent outdoors, fully in the moment, in fantastic places.

    Reply
  • October 18, 2006 at 4:31 pm
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    cyberhobo,
    exactly. I’m glad that you agree on that.
    I’ve been following your rock climbing outings on your blog and the photos you took are awesome. I wish I could climb better soon, and explore more outdoor destinations!

    Reply
  • October 19, 2006 at 9:44 pm
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    Last week, I tried my first gym rock climbing. “Lower me, please.. lower me.” I guess there still a long road to the real rock climbing. :)

    Reply
  • October 20, 2006 at 11:57 am
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    Congrats on the rock climbing. I just had my first “real rock” this summer as well. (try doing it blind-folded, its a blast!)

    In fact, after finding your site a few weeks ago and going through the archives, I notice a lot in common Maybe its just that we are both in our 30s and finally following the outdoor itch – I really related to your post about being thirty and life just beginning… I myself am just now making the move from web-development / programming into widerness education-ish career.

    That’s all. I just wanted to drop a note saying that I enjoy and am motivated by your writing.

    Reply
  • October 24, 2006 at 11:11 am
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    Hi bastish,
    Thank you so much for your comment. I can’t describe how moved I was after reading your comment. I, too, has a dream to do more outdoor activities and also in a way to bring more people to get involved in the outdoors. I hope you have a smooth transaction in your career focus change.

    Reply
  • November 14, 2006 at 10:37 am
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    想到攀岩…我第一次爬的天然岩場在谷關…在七二水災時就被沖不見了…到現在也都沒再攀岩了,想到那次回來手指和全身所有肌肉酸痛的快感,也好久沒再嘗到了呢。看來在台灣,這運動還不是很容易親近。

    Reply
  • February 10, 2007 at 1:33 am
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    To sniper:

    其實台灣攀岩場不算少喔!五年前我剛開始爬的時候,台北就有不少人工岩場跟天然岩場喔!
    人工岩場:
    1.捷運新店市公所站的留公公園(7m)
    2.新店檳榔路(7m)
    3.樹林極限運動公園(13m)
    4.北市青少年育樂中心(室內, 12m)
    5.蘭州街(抱石場)
    天然岩場:
    1.北投大砲岩
    2.北投熱海
    3.東北角龍洞

    其中我最喜歡的是龍洞, 路線長(20-50m), 風景佳(旁邊就是太平洋)
    是台灣岩友的天堂….

    Reply
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