Today it has been four years since I began rock climbing. I did not climb today, but I did get a pair of size 39 (M) EU La Sportiva Solution Comp climbing shoes. I cannot wait to try them out! I cannot wait to try them on! To my knowledge, the climbing gym is open, but I do not yet feel well enough not to be “compromised”. As a matter of fact, I had a coughing fit this morning that was rather frightening. Deep, dry, intense coughing, as if I still had the pneumonia. Perhaps I do. I took two puffs of my inhaler and that helped a bit, but not much. I am not coughing anything up, which is kind of scary, too, because I can feel the stuff down in my lungs when I cough and when I breathe deeply. Maybe it is scar tissue at this point — who knows. I certainly hope it is not, but it could be for all I know. Anyway, back to climbing. I want to climb so badly it is not even funny! I need to climb. I need it for my physical health, but even more for my mental health. I am going half mad in isolation and without the ability to play in the world of the steep. I will take all precautions when I go — face mask, hand-washing before and after I climb, social distancing, using my own chalk (as I always do), alcohol-based liquid chalk as a base, and not touching my face (which will be covered with my face mask formed from my specially folded Buff). I will even have a coffee filter or two inside my face mask folds to keep some of the particles out, at least. My glasses should shield my eyes fairly well. I will take all the precautions that I can in order NOT to catch COVID-19 and contribute to the pandemic statistics, even though I am pretty sure that I already have. We still know very little about this SARS-CoV-2 virus. That is not real encouraging to me. I do not see the “new normal” being “temporary”, which is sad in a lot of ways. I think a new way of life is upon us. Society is going to have to change for a while, perhaps a long while.
Climbing. What an adventure! It is like nothing else I have ever experienced! I remember when I first began climbing. It was 30 Apr 2016. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist. He said, “I think we need to get you down to SteepWorld.” I asked what that was. “It’s an indoor climbing gym.” We have one of those? Yes, indeed we did. He told me approximately where it was and I went directly from my appointment to SteepWorld. I walked in and met Michelle Felix, the manager there. Jim Rott was not in at the time. They had a lot of gear in their retail shop portion, which was in a small, but well-organized space. I inquired and Michelle gladly took me on a tour. It was a bouldering gym. Awesome! There were very few people there at the time that I was in there. That was a plus in and of itself. Michelle said they had rental shoes and rattled off the day-pass information to me. I was not interested in a day-pass, though. I knew the moment I saw the bouldering walls that this was the thing I had been missing. I asked about buying a pair of climbing shoes. We decided, since I needed the extra ankle support due to my (at the time) bum ankle, on a pair of La Sportiva TC Pro climbing shoes. I picked out a light grey Black Diamond chalk bag and a chalk ball, which was what Michelle recommended for starters, and I paid a full month’s membership on the spot. A few days’ worth of climbing later, I bought an annual membership with a Veteran’s discount. Time went on and I met AJ, who would end up being one of my best climbing buddies ever. I got into route setting, where I got to know Taylor, another of one of my best climbing buddies. Brian and Chad helped me out a lot with technique, and I was on my way up the wall in no time! I went climbing every day that the gym was open! It was only closed on Sundays, and that was for route setting, which I became part of quickly enough. I loved the bouldering gym! Once I had strengthened my ankle, I bought a pair of La Sportiva Katana Lace climbing shoes and climbed a full grade harder in an instant. Michelle was glad to see me climb in a more aggressive shoe, which also ended up being a good all-around shoe. I decided to try a pair of La Sportiva Solutions after that, which are my all-time favorites, to this point. Now, we will see if that holds true after I put on this pair of La Sportiva Solution Comp climbing shoes. The differences may seem minor to anyone inexperienced with shoes and how they fit, but I have tried many, many models of shoes, and I can definitely tell you what I want…and I think these new shoes may just have it all! As I said, I am excited to try them on, get them broken in, and climb with them. I can envision myself on the wall with them, and I love the thought of being able to do what has, to this point, been more difficult than it should be concerning heel-hooking and toe-hooking. I just need to find out on the wall what these shoes can do! So, four years from my humble beginnings of never having heard of an indoor climbing gym, I am consistently climbing V3+ outdoors and gunning for a particular V5 that I have all the moves for and just have to link together to send. Hoorah!