I’m not sure if I mentioned this on the blog before, but I have been rock climbing for the last 6 months or so and really loving it. And “love” is really not a word I apply too often to any kind of athletic activity. But it is really fun–good strength training (and for me, decent cardio; after a few months of it, I found I could run about 4 times as far as before without getting winded), fun to work out strategies for how to get up the wall, customizable to your particular skill level, highly social but without the “oh God I’m letting everyone down” feeling that comes to utter non-athletes like me when getting involved in competitive team sports.
For many people, particularly my parents’ generation and older (since rock climbing before the 80s or so was the real deal… on rocks that can crumble or saw through your rope, not in a gym with plastic screw-on holds and padded floors), the reaction when I would mention this was “Wow, isn’t that dangerous?”
My hubris-filled reply: “Oh, it’s perfectly safe, it’s in a gym, on ropes, with a padded floor.”
I bet you see where this is going.
My friend Liz and I signed up for an Advanced Movement class at the gym and I was really excited about it. Finally, we would advance into new and wonderful realms of climbing! Moving in an Advanced way! Learning fabulous new skills!
The first class was basically a diagnostic where we were told to just climb normally, and the instructors would watch and get an idea of our climbing styles so they could tell us what we were doing well and what we needed to work on. So the doors of climbing enlightenment didn’t really crack open on Tuesday.
For the second class, last Thursday, we were supposed to pick out the routes we would be working on–a problem that was just above our skill levels to complete–and we would figure out how to do each piece of it until we could complete the whole thing in one smooth climb. Finally! Soon we would be levitating up walls blindfolded, like true climbing masters.
I picked out an overhanging route set into a corner that I had gotten about halfway up before, and set out. I needed a few tries to get onto it, but I got past where I had been stuck before, and was doing some beautiful moves to get up past the trickiest part. I was doing great! Finally, I was at the very last move of the climb. I had to reach up really high along the overhanging face to get the next hold.
Facing the corner, I put my left foot on the left wall, right foot on the right overhanging wall, and executed a drop knee maneuver by dropping my right knee down, which should have given me a few more inches of reach on the right side.
Unfortunately, as I pushed up with my right leg towards the final hold of the climb, I felt a horrible wrenching sensation in my knee–aside from the horrific pain, when I briefly put my hand on it I could feel that something was very, very wrong. Pop! goes the kneecap. So I had an exciting ambulance ride visit to the emergency room, will be putting a good chunk of change towards my health insurance deductible this calendar year, and am stuck on crutches for probably 4-6 weeks… and will be out of the climbing gym for even longer. Plus, now that I have dislocated my kneecap once, I’m at a high risk for it happening again.
All this happened while I was “perfectly safe,” in my harness, on the rope, being held by a certified belayer. And I was doing a move I’d done before with no ill effects. I guess I just had my knee twisted a bit too far, or was just too forceful this time, or something.
As if to taunt me, the weather here has been gorgeous. Rahul took me on a walk down to the park the other evening (we’re only a couple of blocks away, but on the crutches, it probably took an hour to go a quarter mile) and it was just filled with people enjoying their knees, zooming past on Rollerblades or bicycles or just jogging along. Much like this scene from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, but substitute a working pair of legs for the bikes.
The possibility of getting lots of knitting done is basically my only consolation. At least I can bend my knee again so I can sit up in a chair again instead of having to lie flat on the couch or in bed like I’ve been for the past few days… not that I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done; I finally started my second Interlocking Leaves sock–the first one has been sitting around for ages, solitary and lonely–but I screwed up the instep so had to frog back about an inch of it already. Bah.
Anyway, so that this post is not all griping and gloom, here are some pictures of my latest finished object–another Latitude and Longitude hat, made for my friend’s 30th birthday. (Rav project link) I only had time to take some overexposed photos with the flash before packing it up to give to her, so forgive the photo quality. This was a stashbuster with only one color striping, on a black background–I made it with some leftover black wool, striped with odds and ends of Noro Kureyon and Malabrigo spit-spliced together into a continous strand wherever possible.