Welcome back my fellow intrepid travelers.
This week is all about rock climbing.
Have you ever seen the movie, The Descent?
You know, that horror movie where a group of friends go spelunking in a cave, get trapped and then have to fight their way out through a pack of blood thirsty monsters?
Well, that was the first thing that popped into my head when I heard about the Cave: Rock Climbing Gym here in El Paso.
A spooky subterranean deathtrap.
It probably comes at no surprise that I was way off.
Instead of the damp, underground lair of monsters my wild imagination suggested, I found a charming and fun activity for all ages.
I don't exactly know what led me to look for places to rock climb. I guess I was feeling a little nostalgic. Back in the day, we often stopped at rock climbing walls, if there were any nearby our destination.
I have very fond memories of being strapped into the harness and making my way upward, only to get stuck halfway to the buzzer, frozen in fear. The assistant would then lower my tiny self back to safety with the ropes.
So, I googled rock climbing in El Paso, sure I wouldn't find anything.
Cave was one of the first results to pop up.
Their rave Google reviews and snazzy website quickly dismissed my first thoughts of bloody horror movies. (Saying that out loud totally makes me sound like a crazy person.)
From that minute on, I was psyched to try it out. I had to wait two weeks though, thanks to scheduling errors with my family. (Who are notoriously hard to schedule around.)
Finally though the stars, or in this case the calendars, aligned.
That evening, after work, we all piled into our cars and headed out. The drive only took about fifteen minutes, though one of my brothers got lost one the way. Waiting for him wasn't a problem. The sunset that evening was spectacular. So, we just hung out and watched it until he showed up. I wish I had taken a picture of it so I could share it with you all.
I realized pretty immediately that the Cave wasn't exactly the same as the rock climbing walls I had been to in the past. And that was because it was immediately clear that there were no ropes to help climbers up the walls. Instead there was a very thick mat covering the floor of the climbing area.
So, as we all stood around filling out the liability waivers I wondered how I was going to manage to get back down after I inevitably froze halfway up. (Remember the little problem I mentioned earlier?)
It did help a little that the walls weren't quite as high as the traditional climbing walls. And the managers of the gym gave each of us newbies an orientation to let us know the rules and ways to stay safe while climbing.
We also were instructed on the best way to fall, which we all found hilarious, and we each practiced the perfect fall before they gave us the all clear to climb.
We were really allowed to try anything we wanted for the most part. I personally stuck to the easier routes, but some of the guys there were trying crazy stuff, like handing from the rocks by their feet!
And yes, I did freeze about halfway up the first couple of tries. Being forced to work through the fear and get back down on my own was beneficial though. So I guess not having ropes worked in my favor.
My brothers were much more adventurous. Though they did have an advantage. While I am average when it comes to height, both of my brothers are over six feet, so I was feeling pretty jealous when I saw how easy climbing was for them. Not only were they closer to the top than I was with their feet on the mat, they also have crazy long arms that gave them a huge reach advantage.
Yeah. I was pretty jealous.
But all in good fun.
We stayed for a little over an hour, finding that our muscles were burning at the end of the evening. The next day I could barely hold a pencil.
I had a blast at the Cave: Climbing Gym.
Even with the muscle soreness I experienced the next day.
Ten out of ten chalk bags, would visit again.
When was the last time you visited a rock climbing wall? Did you enjoy it or did you hate it?
I'd love to hear your stories.