2017.04.22 Climbing.

 

     My entire life I have loved the thought of climbing, mountaineering, and snowboarding. Being from a small town in the the midwest, there wasn't much hope for any of these activities. I never thought there would be possibilities in my lifetime apart from a random vacation trip. For me, my interest in climbing started while watching the movie Vertical Limit at the age of 13. I recall the feelings I got viewing the film for the first time. Plenty of adrenaline and loads of interest. But again, never thought much about it ever being a possibility for myself. Even when moving to Colorado in 2007, it never crossed my mind until the oppurtunity occurred on February 18th 2017.  My buddy, Tim, and I's work offers the oppurtunity for experiences to choose from on your work anniversary. Tim's came about and he chose a climbing lesson for two at the Garden of The Gods in Colorado Springs. He extended the 2nd roster spot for myself. Without hesitation I took this oppurtunity. 

     Day of the 18th, we left our apartments at 6am for the journey down to the springs, only a 2 hour drive. Our appointment was at 10am but we were awfully anxious, we arrived 2 hours early. Once we arrived we walked around the park imagining which rocks we were going to climb, and how high we would get. Dreaming like little boys. Once we made a lap around the park we decided to go listen to some music in the car until the coach, Kevin, arrived. To our surprise we saw his red tacoma, like he described it, in the parking lot getting some equipment ready. We concluded we should listen to one more song and let him finish getting set up. Of course that one last one was "Cold Bread" by Johnny Flynn. That is our anthem for adventures and nobody can take it away. 

     After the song was completed, which got our mind's buzzing, we got out of the car in our, I am sure, ridiculous climbing outfits, and headed over to meet Kevin. We introduced ourselves and hit it off instantly. Our personalities meshed really well. Tim and I have a sort of goofy, like to have spontaneous fun at every moment, take everything lightly personalities. For instance, Tim's car was stolen one night before work, Tim called in and let our boss know his car was stolen without a single sense of anger or panic. Making light of the situation, a quick joke came out and that was it. Tim spent the rest of the day enjoying the moment rather than sitting angry at a situation he could not control. Kevin had us sign waivers and set us up with the gear, and we were on our way.

     Kevin asked what we would like to do, learn about climbing or simply get right to it? I wish I remembered the name of the three routes we climbed this day, but I was too focused on the adventure itself. Being anxious, we wanted to get right to it! He took us to an extremely vertical climb. Showed us the ropes, hah, and had us get to it. Tim went first, and climbed it like a champ. There was some nerve wrecking holds, but made it up without a fall. Now the pressure was really on. I couldn't be the only one to fall. I started my climb up and the first few holds were a mixture of technical but not too difficult. While up there you tend to focus on nothing else but where your four extremities are and where they are going to be placed next. Nothing else in the world matters but your next step. About three-quarters the way up there is one move which will either make or break you. You have to use your right big toe on about one-quarter inch ledge to press your arm up high enough to grab the next hold. Once I reached this point, my mind anxiously raced through any other options I may have and how it would hurt falling after this. I yelled down to Tim and Kevin that there was no way in hell my toe would hold. He kept yelling up "trust your equipment!". In my mind I kept saying "yeah right, I trust I am about to splat on the side of this cliff".  On my feet were rubber shoes that had some decent grip. After what feels about 10 minutes I get the courage to go for it. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, here we go. One fluid movement, toe in, hold reached! I did it. My body was shaking and sweat was dripping from every body crease. One more move and I made it to the top. I shouted "I am a god!" from the top and looked down to quite a few people watching us. I quietly repelled downward. Once I hit the bottom, I knew my life would never be the same.

    We went on to climb two more non technical routes to learn a bit more about the knots and the sport.  We did a three person "trad" climb where Kevin was the lead, I was the center, and Tim followed removing the equipment from the side of the cliff. The last one taught us about belaying devices and how to use them. Kevin at the end of the class recommended that if we liked climbing to stick with it, as a team. We had the chemistry that makes a good team as well as the skills that would only get better. Since that day we have made two free climbs up the flatirons in Boulder and many journeys to a local climbing gym. Today is earth day, and we were to do a climb this morning at Eldorado springs, but it turned out to be very cold and rainy this morning.  So instead I am here at Bittersweet Cafe in Louisville reminiscing about my first adventure on the wall. I cannot wait for what my future climbing life holds.

 

 

Brandon Nicklaus