The view was incredible — tiny trees, a flock of birds flying nearby and tiny houses next to a gorgeous lake with tiny boats driving along.
I got caught up in all of it, and for a moment, I forgot that I was attached to a rope and dangling 50 feet in the air.
I was reminded after I shifted my body weight and found myself whacking into a rock wall.
This past weekend, I went top-rope climbing outdoors for the time. And now that I can feel my arms again, I will tell you about it.
A friend with significantly more climbing experience invited me to go climbing so he could teach me some basic techniques. I’ve climbed indoors a few times, but I’m very much a beginner.
My friend picked a rock face on Mount Scott at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge called “High Anxiety.” I would say, for me, the name was appropriate. As I rappelled down, I was sweating bullets. I kept peeking down and thinking, “That’s. So. Far.”
However, some of my stress was lifted before we started down. My climbing partner for the day spent about 45 minutes to an hour teaching me about safety. This is definitely something I will look for when picking future climbing partners. When you go climbing, you are placing your safety in your own hands. It’s important to climb with people who understand your experience level and are willing to teach you something you don’t understand.
After I made it to the bottom, I felt kind of like these guys. Once my climbing partner made it down, we took a moment to go over more safety and climbing techniques.
I climbed up the rock face three times, each time making it a little higher. The first two times I climbed, I wore my Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSports. I had an OK time climbing with them, but it was more difficult to balance on small ledges. It was difficult to get all my toes to agree that we were all going to focus on staying in that one small area — and not wiggle.
(As a note, I really love my Vibrams and wear them when I’m out and about and also when I’m running, hiking or doing anything else active. So this is really my only critique of them, and I have had them since December)
The third time I went up, I put on my friend’s climbing shoes because we thankfully wear the same size. Climbing shoes allow you to just have one big rubber toe that you can use to maneuver. This was a lot easier, considering you’re placing your feet on small ledges in order to support yourself. Having climbing shoes on was likely one of the reasons I made it higher the third time I went up. And I also think it was because I was feeling much braver. My heart had slowed down some, and I felt like I wasn’t a complete idiot in regards to climbing.
Now that I’ve had my first taste of outdoor climbing, I’m ready to learn more. Going to Rocktown Climbing Gym in Oklahoma City is high on my to-do list. Well, that and going back to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge as soon as possible.
I hope you will take a moment to share your first-time climbing experiences and also share with other readers any tips you might have about climbing in Oklahoma.