Girls on Wheels go rock climbing

Vicki Baker

When thinking about rock climbing do images of people hanging precariously from towering rock walls spring to mind? Do such gravity-defying feats belong only to an experienced and talented few? Not so! Girls on Wheels headed for their own day of indoor rock climbing at DynoRock in Arlington.

Stepping into the climbing gym lined with daunting Easter-egg speckled walls, we felt completely out of our element – it was eye opening, energizing and a bit frightening. For a moment, with palms sweating, we contemplated retreating. But we resisted the urge knowing we were up to the challenge.

We completed a crash course on climbing movements, applying the harness, tying into the rope and belaying (a rope management technique which holds the climber in the event of a fall and allows for safe ascent and descent). With nerves starting to wane, we were fitted with climbing shoes with special rubber soles to help your feet stick to the footholds and a safety harness (like a seat belt, it’s the link between your body and the safety rope).

Confidence now boosted, we faced the walls. We attached our harness to a rope that passes up through an anchor system at the top of the wall, and then down to our belayer at the base. We then began our ascent, finding holds with our feet and hands and creeping our way upward.

Routes are color-coordinated – follow the more challenging same color up the wall or a simpler “rainbow” route by grabbing whatever color you can. We grabbed the first boulder hold, lifted ourselves from the ground and moved our feet as we climbed. When we came to the middle section, we got stuck. Fretting we were too far from the next hold, there were shouts of encouragement to keep moving our feet up the wall. Hugging the wall, we swung our left foot up, catching a tiny white mound we weren’t even sure we could reach. Pushing off with our toes, we hoisted ourselves up to the next hold and clawed our way upward. Our hands were soon able to reach the spot we couldn’t grasp before.

Torn between giving up or fighting like heck to finish, we gave ourselves a minute to regroup. In that moment, while pressed against the wall, it became clear we needed to draw on our inner strength. With sheer determination we inched our way farther and farther up. Cheers broke out from below. We had reached our goal – the top!

Our first climbing gym visit left us with a physically drained body, a sense of accomplishment and an endorphin-fueled “high”. Bursting with pride for conquering the climb, those moments on the wall taught us that even though we are capable of facing tough obstacles, it doesn’t mean we have to go it alone – we can always count on the best ever group of friends to push us to succeed. That’s what girl-friending is all about.