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How Did You Learn To Climb???
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ihategrigris


Nov 4, 2005, 7:17 PM
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How Did You Learn To Climb???
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I noticed a lot of beginner questions are answered by "Go take a course". I'm wondering how many people out there actually took a course rather than learning to climb from climbing partners and books.

I myself didn't take a course, everything I know I've been taught by friends along the way. I think it's a good way to go. I've also met a few self taught climbers (this may be a more questionable idea!).

I guess the big question is, how did you learn to climb? Go!


trevzilla


Nov 4, 2005, 7:47 PM
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All by myself! Picked up a few books, learned a few knots and went with an experianced climber once. After that, I was off to the store to buy my own quickdraws. Started sport leading right away. Then as my funds increased, I bought pro and taught myself how to climb trad. (My first trad climb was a 5.10, but maybe I should call it an aid climb. Didn't do it very cleanly) Regardless, I think if you have the drive and the brains to learn yourself, go for it. But if you don't have the patience to read, then by all means get an instructor!


mistertyler


Nov 4, 2005, 8:14 PM
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I was lucky and met someone my first day in the gym who happened to be knowledgable, safe, and eager to share his knowledge with others. We became friends and partners and I picked up a large bulk of my knowledge from him.

After then reading a couple of the classic Falcon series books (JL's Climbing Anchors, How to Rock Climb...) I sprung for a guide to help me apply what I'd read on actual rock and spent a couple days building anchors at the base of the cliff, learning the basics of self rescue, and doing some multi-pitch routes (evaluating the anchors and setups along the way). Guides aren't cheap, but there's nothing better IMHO than having an entire day (or more) to go down the list of specific questions you have on a one-on-one basis with a knowledgable guide.

Since those early days, the lion's share of my learning has come from climbing with other people; I learn new tricks and techniques from climbers more knowledgable than I am, and feel good when I can offer something to a partner who has less experience than I do.


chossmonkey


Nov 4, 2005, 9:29 PM
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"How to Rock Climb" by John Long.


emilykristina


Nov 4, 2005, 9:48 PM
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:D I am totally all about climbing with people that are much better than me and are willing to teach me as we go. I was super fortunate to become good friends with a rad chick who just happens to be the most hard core climber I have ever met. I was doing my first 5.7 sport leads while she told me stories of 25 pitch trad adventures. It was awesome. Now I am leading trad and it is so cool to be able to ask her questions about gear and technique and stuff like that. Books are good and I have definitely benefited from them but the thing that has helped me the most is getting out on the rock with someone more experienced.


snakehuntergirl


Nov 4, 2005, 10:13 PM
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Good question.... I'm thinking...Lets see..Oh, no...here comes the flashbacks...

1st skill developed; Mini -dyno moves.
Started climbing fences and walls as did alot of the kids growing up in L.A., as shortcuts to get home from school in order to avoid getting cornered in bad alleys with gangbangers and perverts.

2nd skill;Ability to overcome the elements i.e.; Preventing dehydration , heat stroke and starvation.
Explored the desert with my dad who was a diehard rockhound who loved to hike the deserts in the dead of summer, especially his favorite place, Death Valley. His excuse, "We'll have all the rocks to ourselves, cause no one else can stand the heat!" He was right. Our van didn't have A.C. Used squirt bottles and the desert breeze to keep us cool. Learned how to ration water and food. Our van would break down alot. A two hour adventure could be more realistically, from dawn till dusk, but DAMN he could get us out of bad situations; that man could Jerry-rig anything to work! Bottle caps, rusty nails, gun shells, whatever he could find! I also learned to trust "questionable" rigging. OOOPS,I know, not a good skill for climbing. Next!!

3rd skill ; Overcoming fear of heights.
Dad loved to drive his van on horribly washed out,crumbly, "wagon" roads, with what seemed like 200 foot dropoffs ,from the passenger side, of course.In the NO SEATBELT days. When I was scared, he would laugh, so it was all good.Got used to heights pretty quick. As long as he was laughing, I was going to live, or die laughing,or whatever.
Jumping from piers (only a couple of times ) helped too.

4th skill; Downclimbing and route finding;
Actually, I got lost alot( I wandered away from my father quite a bit) and had to do alot of buttsliding, and scary traversing, backtracking etc... on steep chossy hills ,but did eventually find him in some big hole he dug, surrounded by rocks. Huh, funny, he never seemed to worry when I was gone for a few.

5th skill; Carrying heavy, awkward loads.
Well, someone had to help him carry the pillow cases of rocks and gallon jugs of water up and down the hills.

6th skill; Learning to trust your partner not to drop you;
Sorry father, but..... Why did you hold me by my feet and ask me if I could see anything down the mine shafts or in deep crawl spaces of caves? I did trust you though. Oh, back to the original question about "taking a course"; we should have taken one on the dangers of mine shafts and learned spelunking from experts.

7th skill; Ice and snow skills.
Wait a minute.....I don't have much of any. Went sledding in the mountains a few times. Day hiked in it a few times. Still waiting for snow in Vegas. I do see ice sculptures from time to time. Guess one day I should take a course.

Enough about my childhood..... I was very lucky to have learned from more experienced climbers, but I have taken a few classes here and there, asked questions, accepted constructive criticism from my partners, and read books. I am fortunate to have had many years experience hiking and scrambling in the desert. It also helps to know different types of rock, especially if you'll be climbing on it! The interesting thing about climbing is you learn something new everytime you go out! Hands on experience helps you along .


Partner abe_ascends


Nov 5, 2005, 12:15 AM
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Being mentored by an old dude.
Then I picked up some books (FOTH, and John Long's books) and read like crazy, AND (here's the key part) put those new skills into use by practicing them. Practiced anchors and some basic self rescue on a rig in my room, then moved it outdoors when I was ready to increase the realism.


slablizard


Nov 5, 2005, 12:58 AM
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Climbing school. Two weeks back in 85 ir Roma. We went bouldering the first day ( I didn't know I was bouldering) then climbing at Sperlonga and Leano. The last day was on a multi pitch trad at Circeo. Even with some aid stuff.

That sold my soul to the demon of climbing.

All started a night when I saw guys rappelling off a tree at 3 AM smoking joints on the way down. I was looking at them smoking my own stuff.

"What the fuck are you guys doing" ?
" trying the ropes!" was the answer.
"For what?"
"we're climbers man..."

back then climbers were all crazy and weird. And stoned of course. Pretty much like now...almost.


shock


Nov 5, 2005, 3:49 AM
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Joined my college club with lots of experienced climbers in it. Learned from them, and now i'm teaching it all to the new club members...

the circle continues.


olive


Nov 5, 2005, 4:40 AM
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I am still learning...


dingus


Nov 5, 2005, 4:45 AM
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I attend the School of Bumblers, graduated at the bottom of my class.

Wanna go climbing?

DMT


lordshockspeare


Nov 5, 2005, 8:46 AM
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I learned alot of my early technical skills being an avid tree climber.
At least because of this I never get much of a fear of heights.
I also remember my dad giving me "The Freedom of the Hills" for my 12th birthday. I read that book everday for months on end. I remember practicing the knots and everything, even belaying my dog! Too bad I never actually climbed more then 2-3 times a year! I first got interested in moutnaineering and those glorified scrambles. It was until this two years that I got interesting in climbing something as puny as a ten foot high boulder.

Now my climbing only consists of buildering....


cintune


Nov 5, 2005, 8:50 AM
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By putting one foot above the other.


dubforceone


Nov 5, 2005, 9:19 AM
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I was fortunate enough to get introduced to climbing when i was stationed in 29 Palms....a 5 min jog from J tree..or maybe you could say unfortunate that i wasnt introduced to climbing until 20...either way...

I like watching people climb...when i first started i would watch more experienced climbers...pick out what i thought made them strong climbers...and try to find something similiar in my own style....

I also read a few books....how to rock climb breaks it all down to basic levels...easy to understand but you must practice to master

Having a good friend who knows a lot about climbing is an excellent way to cram knowledge into your head...but you still have to do it....

I learn the most through exploring...which i think is the best way to learn...


cosmiccragsman


Nov 5, 2005, 9:56 AM
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I learned to climb back in the early 60s, by walking out the front door of my parents house, and walking up the road about 2 1/2 miles to
Indian Cove at JTree.
Cosmiccragsman


sick_climba


Nov 5, 2005, 12:04 PM
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I basicly tuaght myself... well the basics then I picked up a few things on roped climbing from my buds, because I used to only solo. But that was well before I knew about roped climbing.
Climb on
Chris


chanceboarder


Nov 5, 2005, 12:22 PM
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i learned from a couple of friends about 9 years ago. they loved big wall aid routes and trad routes. so i got to learn to place and clean gear before anything else. they taught me to build anchors and how to climb. i've never taken a formal class on climbing and i continue to reinforce and learn new skills by reading books and climbing other more experienced climbers.


artsylady567


Nov 5, 2005, 12:23 PM
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learned to climb w/ another person to start but didn't really get a formal intro to the gear and climbing techniques, so I took a daylong outdoor climbing course that covered the basics and it really helped.


Partner hosh


Nov 5, 2005, 2:07 PM
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I learned to climb by reading the posts on this site. Everyone here is an expert, you know...


hosh.


scarpa


Nov 5, 2005, 3:03 PM
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when i was like 8 my uncle took me now im still at it


chanf


Nov 5, 2005, 9:38 PM
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i took a course through the university and it was a safe environment to practice in with someone watching over my shoulder to make sure i was doing everything right. i guess the reason why everyone says to go take a course is because you can learn faster through more personalized attention, and you'll get valid safe technique rather than just learning from someone who you're not sure of their experience and such.


pindrvr75


Nov 6, 2005, 12:50 AM
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Got lucky, had friends that climbed show me the ropes. That's better than reading or watching spiders on the walls.


overlord


Nov 6, 2005, 12:56 AM
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i never had a formal course.

i learned the basics outside by an old goat. then i got serious and learned more stuff along the way.


djbiggs


Nov 6, 2005, 2:16 AM
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Hired some gear in thailand......my friend said he new how..... Didn't do anything totally retarded so no one got hurt but after that went climbing with some hard core germans in loas who showed some cool tips, read, practice, reread, apply......


teddybear


Nov 6, 2005, 2:27 AM
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In reply to:
I noticed a lot of beginner questions are answered by "Go take a course". I'm wondering how many people out there actually took a course rather than learning to climb from climbing partners and books.

I myself didn't take a course, everything I know I've been taught by friends along the way. I think it's a good way to go. I've also met a few self taught climbers (this may be a more questionable idea!).
Same here but I am going to do some advanced courses at some stage just so I am sure in my safety and with that of other people I climb with.

Self taught climbers are questionable unless they can prove they are great teachers/learners.


climb_life


Nov 6, 2005, 6:14 AM
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A friend of mine took me to the nearest indoor-wall. (we haven't rocks in the Netherlands..) We came there about 3 times a week and after a half year we started to take a course in technique. After 1 year we went to the France alps and took there courses in rock climbing.

It's now 2,5 years later and after a break of several months I'm going to train again!


mcgivney_nh


Nov 6, 2005, 6:17 AM
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I'm still learning a ton, just started leading sport yesterday, just hanging around the gym a ton (its like five minutes from my house), and I finally found some people to climb with. (the proces of finding climbing partners is a lot harder when you don't have a license...)

-Sean


climb512


Nov 6, 2005, 6:26 AM
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Followed for about 2 months. Read everything I could get my hands on about anchors,pro,etc. Then just did it. No course or class. Climbed a lot of easy stuff placing a ton of gear to get the practice and critique from my partner.


porcelainsunset


Nov 6, 2005, 7:32 AM
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I figured I might be the first to shout this out, Boy Scouts.

That’s right, I'm a boy scout. Haha. After a short experience of climbing top roped on plastic indoor, I feel in love with the physically, yet calm and peaceful nature of climbing. When I was about 13 I had the option of taking climbing merit badge, and took it. There I learned the basics, how to belay, rappel, tie in, etc. However, learned nothing about basics such as trad or lead climbing, so it wasn’t much of a class, but more of an introduction.
I learned how to sport climb from one of my good friends in High School, Sam. There is this little local crag of about 40 feet that I played around on a 5.7 when I was just a punk kid, playing on the near by railroad tracks with my skateboard. I had no idea that people actually climbed there. But, when me and Sam decided that we where going to start climbing, that’s where we went. He taught me how to sport climb, clean, lead, all that basic stuff.
I really learned how to climb from my coylec, the moderator of the aid forum. I was climbing at Broughton Bluff, a local spot, and took like a 30 foot lead fall, on this crazy 5.10 run out, where the bolt line pretty much stopped. I was trying to place a rather large cam, that we found in the wall earlier that day, in this area that offered no real protection, and took a huge fall in the process. Two minutes later, we found the owner of it, Chris (coylec) because he took like a 30-foot aid fall. We all went running over, I showed him my blood after he showed me his. Showed him the cam, he said it was his and that he left it there yesterday, and then I told him we needed a hammer to get it out. I invited him back to my buddies place to celebrate his birthday and drink, and then we ended up at Smith Rock, where he taught me to place Pro.
From here on out I've mainly been teaching myself. Best advice, get Mountaineering, Freedom of the Hills. Read it cover to cover, then go over it again and practice everything. I've taught myself how to aid climb, and do a couple of other cool stuff from that book.

So, the moral of my story is this. Go climb something way out your rating, without the needed gear. Hurt yourself. Find somebody better than you who is still hutting themselves. Get them drunk, and then make plans to go climb together. Worked for me. Oh, or you can join boyscouts.


billl7


Nov 9, 2005, 7:00 PM
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I started climbing when I had a family so I couldn't really just get on the rocks any day or weekend that I wanted.

Yes, I eventually hired an instructor but first joined the local climbing club and took their class on trad which basically got one ready to follow on a climbing team fairly safely. Climbed as much as I could with the club, all top rope and following with a little sport leading; suffered the scorn of my non-climbing wife. :( Club activities focused more on sport and top-roping than on trad so after about a year with the club ...

Hired an instructor for a day to learn something about leading trad. Built some ground level anchors and did some mock leading on a 5.8 route: placing gear on top rope. Talked a lot (~14 hour day). Very helpful and confidence building to have someone experienced look at your placements and critique them. Saw some difference between this particular instructor and the club culture in terms of rigging techniques - good to see.

Came back a few weeks later (this was last spring) and repeated the route I mock led but this time really on the sharp end. Also led a neighboring easier route. Then went to a neighboring much harder sport route that day and took a whipper off a shiney new bolt; bloodied my hand during the fall. 2nd degree burns on my belayer's non-break-hand fingers. :shock: Since that day ...

Did some more following with the club. Suffered more scorn from my wife but by this time she is climbing at the gym with me. :D Hooked up with a relative who had been leading trad about a year longer than I and climbed with her in Washington State's North Cascades, leading easy trad routes for six straight days: 5.5 to 5.7, non-sustained at the upper end. We hooked up again a couple months later down here in NM for a three day weekend about a month ago - did trad climbing on two days and rained out on the third day.

Finally lead a pitch with a club leader last weekend! Still haven't lead a 5.8 trad pitch since the first one but expect to in the next six months or so - taking it slow - learning lots - great joy. Oh, and less scorn from my wife. :D


thirsty2praise1


Nov 9, 2005, 7:07 PM
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My brother got me involved when i was younger but sad to say i havent climbed for a few years. I am wanting to get back into it though.


Partner jammer


Nov 9, 2005, 7:26 PM
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I was just laying there on day, you know, kind a just enjoying my own space. I looked around and reached up for this hold. I pulled myself up and looked around some more. Seeing more possibilities, I threw my leg up and hooked a good hold. As I topped the small ledge I lost my balance and before I knew it, I hit hard!






Man, I miss my crib!


deltav


Nov 9, 2005, 7:31 PM
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Some guy I met while working at K-Mart as a teenager. Taught me everything I know. Wish I could find him and thank him...


raymondjeffrey


Nov 9, 2005, 7:48 PM
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I learned from the Arizona Mountaineers Club. They are a great bunch of patient and knowledgeable folks who love sharing their knowledge of SAFE climbing with eager new folks. I am appreciative of their organization because I initially thought that climbing would be cool. I never thought that it would become so important to me.
I am also always learning from noobies and sages alike.

Carry On,

Raymond


lewisiarediviva


Nov 9, 2005, 8:06 PM
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I believe climbing is a natural instinct that our mother's prevented us from doing by pulling us off the kitchen cabinets before we could walk. Then we learned to walk and our brain nerves connected in strange patterns. We simply have to relearn how to climb.


esp71


Nov 9, 2005, 8:40 PM
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Two of my friends took me out and sent me up a one pitch climb on TR. It took me a long time to let go of the rock and let them lower me, but I thought it was pretty cool.

A couple of months later, they took me out again and we did a 3 pitch trad climb (sparerib, gallatin canyon, MT). I was the last of a 3 man rope and I spent a lot of time alone on the belay ledges, getting more and more frightened . When I finally got to move up the last pitch, a perfect fist and arm crack, my fear motivated me to move, but then my movement transformed the fear into pure elation. They yelled at me to slow down becase they were having trouble pulling in the slack. I loved the exposure and the puzzle/dance of the climbing and when I pulled over the top the whole world had that super-real shimmer of a really good Acid Trip.

I was totally hooked.

Still am.


celemandraos


Nov 9, 2005, 8:44 PM
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I climbed out of the womb


curt


Nov 9, 2005, 8:50 PM
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I got dragged out to the crag by an old Gunks climber in the late 1970s. The rest, as they say, is history. 8^)

Curt


omegaprime


Nov 9, 2005, 9:58 PM
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I was intrigued by rock climbing for a while, so I decided to take a 2 day outdoor climbing course, covering the basics and safety of sport climbing. Didn't think it would be so much fun. Then I did something that has sealed my fate: I bought gear!! :P

In the beginning I didn't have much strength or technique, so spent the next 4 months training in the gym (TR) and reading all I can about climbing (technique, training, movements). In that sense you can say I was self taught. After that, went back outdoors, tried leading, and the trainer of the course I took previously became my mentor after seeing that I was hooked on climbing.

Now I'm climbing and learning on my own, and with whoever has something to teach me. Next stop, trad. Trying to see if I can leech off some old timers, I don't have the balls to try trad on my own right now. :D


p0stscript


Nov 10, 2005, 3:25 AM
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I went on a course having attempted to climb on my own. Then joined a local club to improve.
:D


sweetchuck


Nov 10, 2005, 5:36 AM
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It was the summer of 1997, Madison WI. I hooked up with some dope smoking jokers who had only been climbing 3 times themselves. Top roping at Devil's Lake, doing a few things very wrong, but what did I know? Came back to NC loving it and bought everything I need, and a harness for a partner and started recruiting friends. Taught everyone how to belay on the hike in and put my butt on the line as their final exam (no problems). Didn't even know trad and sport climbing existed for a couple more years ("hey look, I wonder what that bolt is doing up there"). Then I read books to unlearn all the bad things I learned in WI (Andy and Nicki, you know who you are!).


adrenaline_smack


Nov 10, 2005, 6:42 AM
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BSA- camp workcoeman to be specific and then through our troops venture patrol, went to prime climb alot

now im a part of the uconn rock club, and we rage it up in NH every good weekend we have


azrockclimber


Nov 10, 2005, 7:32 AM
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self taught...

In retrospect...if I had fallen in the first 6 months of climbing( it was almost all trad) ....I def would have decked and probably died. My slings wre too short casuing my gear to walk or pop itself out...etc. I basicaly led with the leader does NOT fall ethic for the 1st year of climbing. By the end of that time + the fact that I was trying to protect on Mt. Lemmon( not exactly straight forward placements) I had become really adept at finding and installing pro.

I guess I should also give some credit where credit is due. Scott Ayers really helped take my climing up a notch. Stories, tips, putting the seed of yosemite and other places like that into my head( some I have made it to smae I haven't). Setting new routes that were just incredible. Thanks man. Hope we can climb again soon.

Ah, memories. Like leading up slippery when wet(5.7) and then traversing way over right and ending up on BBC(.10a) just in time to climb through the crux!!
for a beginner whoa....man that'll get your routfinding and pro placing in line quick....talk about freaked out!!ha

those early days were great... but I have to be honest I don't miss being freaked out every single minute. I like to select those times these days...and be ready for them. Unfortnately, as we all know, you are still going to find yourself way runout on poor gear when you never expected to be. It's part of why I love climbing!!!


Partner fowler214


Nov 10, 2005, 7:42 AM
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I copied this from a post I did on the topic “when did you know you were a boulder-er?”
Granted the topic question was different but in the post you see that I learned to climb by force.


There I was tied to the bed covered in motor oil. My girlfriend comes through the door with a car battery and a set of jumper cables. When all of a sudden a pack of wolves burst through the window. After loosening the ropes holding me down I made a run for it. First I try to make it to the kitchen but no luck, then to the living room with the animals on my heels. I made it out the front door and ran as fast as I could. Not far from the house was a creek bed surrounded by several boulders. I thought to my self if I can just get on top of them maybe they cant get me. I approach the rock and quickly make my way to the top. (Later I discovered it was a V0, this was a good thing because as I mentioned earlier I was covered in motor oil.) Try as they might the wolves could not work the problem (wolves do not have opposable thumbs and this is why you will never see them in a comp). It was at this instant I knew the safest place to be in the world was on top of a boulder. From that day on I have spent every waking moment preparing, by practice and visualization, for the next time those damn creatures return. I am trying to get my new girl in to it as well. So she can survive the attack, you see my last girl did not make it on to the rock. She made it there but I was not about to risk my life by reaching down and pulling her up, What do you think I'm crazy or something?

Let my experience serve as a warning and lesson. Boulders = Safe


As you can see I was more or less self taught through fear. I later got some books learned through friends and took a class. Like everyone here i continue to learn things to this day. And i feel all resources; classes, books, pratice, and word of mouth are valuable resources.


jjhellstrom


Nov 10, 2005, 8:23 AM
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I second that... an old dude that has forgot more about climbing than you'll probably ever learn really helps cut the learing curve in half. Also marrying well. I have been climbing for a little over a year now, thanks to my father in law who has been doing it since before lycra was cool! He's retired, so he has nothing but time on his hands to climb and much info to provide and I take full advantage of that.
If marrying isn't an option though (which I wouldn't neccesarily recommend as a means to climb better!) then the local gym has also been a great source of info for me, as well.
All that aside though... There is nothing to it, but to do it!


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