Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Emma Rocked the Rock Wall

Today was a crazy busy day for us.

9am- Horse lessons at Wheeler Boarding in Bondurant. (which we were almost late for).

10:30ish- drop books off at Half Price Books in Des Moines (and eat a snack in the car on the way).

11:15ish: Rock climbing at Climb Iowa. (we ate lunch in the car on the way here- PB&J rocks)

2:00: Babysit some handsome boys.

I have to say, that as busy as our day was, it was a really great day. When I asked Emma what her favorite part of the day was, this was her answer- "ROCK CLIMBING!"

Surprised? I was. I am not exactly sure what made me decided to give it a try. A few weeks ago when we were in Cresco, I saw some mention of rock climbing somewhere and it made me wonder if Emma would enjoy it. There is a rock climbing wall at the park in Cresco that Emma really enjoys, but we haven't climbed it in a really long time.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I decided that we should try it out. Climb Iowa is located in Grimes, IA, about 45 minutes or so from our house. I figure, we would be out driving all around Des Moines today anyway, so we might as well maximize the trip.

We showed up shortly after they open so the place wasn't really busy, but I was impressed with how clean and bright the facility was. Matthew was the guy that helped us out and gave us our orientation. He was really nice with us newbies. Emma enjoyed chatting to him. She even decided to share with him 'how good she felt she would be at climbing because she had to climbed the ladder to get into her loft bed all the time'. Made me smile :)

We ended up using the auto belay system, which was interesting. There are 4 auto belay locations throughout the facility, but Emma was only tall enough to clip into one of them. She also didn't really weigh enough for the auto belay. That being said, she did AWESOME! I was so impressed with her.

Just starting out and she really didn't need much help figuring out where to put her hands and feet. 

Stretching to reach one way above her head

That is a second sign reminding climbers to make sure they are clipped in. 

I am a crappy judge of distance, but I would say that at this point, her feet were about 7 feet off the ground. That puts her head at about 8.5 feet off the ground. Wow. 

This is where it got a little scary. Ok, a lot scary for her. She was pretty close to being terrified. She let go so that she could come back down, but the auto belay wasn't sending her down. Emma doesn't weigh enough to trigger the device to descend. We tried the technique Matthew had showed us (having Emma try to pull her way down using one of the ropes nearby) but she wasn't able to figure it out. That it the motion of reaching over made her swing a bit from side to side. Which made her freak out a bit more. By this point she was basically screaming that she was stuck. So, I did the only thing a mother could do. I climbed up a few notches, grabbed her foot and yanked her down.  

I didn't realize she had a death grip on one of the hand holds. I almost pulled her shoe off. Not that me telling her to let go would have made a difference. She was screaming so loudly she couldn't hear me. I got her down so she was floating at face level with me and she jumped on me like a rat drowning. I held on tight to her, trying to talk to her, to explain that, yes the experience was scary, but that she had been safe. 

She kept telling me that she was done, she wanted to leave. I looked her in the eye, and this is what I told her.

"I am ok if you want to leave, but this is what we are going to do first. I am going to un-clip you, then we are going to sit down on the bench until you are calmed down. I would like very much for you to do one more climb, not a high one, but just one more climb before we leave. What do you think?"

She took a deep breath and agreed. I un-clipped her, we sat, we snuggled, we breathed, and we chatted. 

"How many hand holds do you think you climbed?"

Emma counts the ones she touched- "14."

"14?! You climbed up 14? That is really great."

We chat a bit more about what some of the hand holds look like (they have some cool designs-skulls, bats, dinosaurs, etc.), and in the middle of the conversation, Emma starts walking back to the auto belay station. 

"You ready to go again?"


So, we review the proper way to clip in. Emma tries to help out a bit but the clips are a bit tricky. As we clip in, I ask which handhold she plans to climb to.

"I think that black and white one."
That would be the black and white one in her left hand. She makes me so proud. 

Then we spent about an hour practicing going up a short ways and figuring out how to get back down. If she lets go, she just sits there. She has to activate the belay system by pulling herself down a bit. Sometimes she ends up pulling herself all the way down to the floor. Even then the belay system wants to pull her back up. She has a hard time walking when hooked up. 

We also spent some time in the bouldering area where she got to climbed without a rope attached. She really like that because she got to jump off and land on the fluffy mat. Where you see her is about as high as she went, but it was still a ton of fun. 

We probably would have stayed till they kicked us out if not for the babysitting. She really had a great time, and even though she got super scared at that one point, she still thinks she likes rock climbing, "a drop more then horseback riding."

I sure do love that kid. 

p.s. sorry for the low quality pictures. We can't find the charger to our camera so all I had on me was my camera phone. I am so glad my phone can take pictures. How did I survive without that?

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