Saturday afternoon, I was invited to go indoor rock climbing at the local entertainment venue Main Event with friends Rob and Elizabeth. I had never tried rock climbing before and thought it sounded like a fun challenge. When we walked in, the place was littered with little kids’ birthday parties. Kids were routinely just shooting up these steep inclines with no effort, then happily bouncing back down the incline thanks to the safety harness attached to a heavy-duty rope. “Must be pretty easy!” I thought to myself.
It was not.
These ropes are really helping pull a lighter person up to the top. If you were to take the rope off the clip and let go of it, it would shoot to the top of the rock very fast. So the reason these kids were just flashing to the top was because they could virtually just stand there and this rope system would eventually pull them to the top without them having to move a muscle. The heavier a person is, the less help that rope is. And for me, it did nothing. Every foot I climbed took pure grit and muscle. Likewise, it made the drop back down much more terrifying and faster. I’d watch these 7-year-old kids glide to the top, ring the bell, let go, and enjoy their joy ride to the bottom. I would get to the top, lunge for the bell, let go, and crash back to the padded ground thirty feet below.
Thirdly, the heavier a person is, the more painful the harnesses that strap around your crotch/groin area are, obviously due to the laws of physics, with excessive weight pulling downward into these nylon straps. Not only that, but the harness creates this awkward triangular bulge right in the male genital area, making grown men look all the more perverted playing in a rock area occupied mostly by little kids.
It was a disaster right from the start. It was taking a toll on my fingertips and forearms to support my weight. I was hunched over trying to get my breath back after falling from two feet off the ground. And once I did get higher up, it was very scary surging down. On my second climb on one of the beginner rocks, I was careening down and got wildly off-course, spinning around aimlessly, and my foot kicked a young boy in the back of the head/neck/back area somewhere. I was yelling “watch out!” as I came down errantly but it was to no avail. The kid shrieked and began bawling and ran to his mom. “Mommy, that man kicked my head!” he wailed, pointing at me.
In the end I made it to the top of three beginner rocks. There was also a smaller rock area for training purposes with large padded matts below. I could essentially reach the top ledge from the ground, so I stood there and happily completed several obstacles without leaving the ground. In the end I was exhausted. It was frightening. I felt like a jerk kicking little kids. It was not much fun for me. But it was a new experience, and I can check that off my non-existent list of activities to try.