Climbing The Walls

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not very athletic. I only run if something is chasing me, although my idea of exercise HAS evolved from drinking wine while peddling a recumbent cycle to taking a brisk walk with the dog. It’s brisk because it’s the only way I can keep up with him—he’s currently terrible on a leash. He already knows the word ‘Walk’ and goes out of his mind with joy when he hears it to the point that you can barely get the leash attached to his collar before he’s out the door and gone. I’ve tried all kinds of things to calm him down but nothing works:

Me: Heel!
Atlas: Heal what? I’m fine.
Me: NO, stay by my heel.
Atlas: Then I’ll miss that awesome telephone pole. Also, there might be some squirrel sh*t that I have to smell. Ooh, a butterfly—come on!!

Cookies don’t work—well, they work until he’s swallowed them, and then he’s right back to strangling himself with his collar. He WILL sit at the corner, long enough to earn a ‘good boy’, then he laughs and dashes away, dragging me behind him. At 5 months old and 40 pounds, he’s hard to control but at least I’m getting my cardio in. Once everything opens up, I’m definitely taking him for obedience classes, mostly because he’s been trying to drink my wine when I’m not looking.

Anyway, aside from my daily race around the block, I don’t do anything too strenuous, so the other day when Kate asked, “Hey, do you want to go rock climbing with me?” my first instinct was to say “Yes”, because I love hanging out with her, and my second instinct was to whisper to Ken, “My god, what have I done?” He whispered back, “Just climb the kiddie wall—you’ll be fine.” I found some old exercise gear in a drawer, put on some running shoes, and we set out. I should mention that my daughter has her own rock-climbing shoes, so that should tell you exactly what the differential is between us in terms of rock climbing acumen. We got to the facility and walked in. It was huge, with walls of grips going up twenty feet at least, surrounded by 2-foot-thick mats. “Where are the ropes?” I asked. “Why isn’t anyone got a rope around their waist?” Kate informed me that this was ‘bouldering’ which is basically free climbing, so there went my dream of just swinging casually from a rope like a trapeze performer (also in this dream, I’m holding a glass of wine. It was a nice dream). We got up to the counter where we were met by a perky young woman.

Perky Young Woman: Hi! Is this your first time bouldering?
Me: Yes.
PYW: OK, let’s go over some safety guidelines. First, do you know how to fall?
Me: I think so, but I generally tend to avoid it, so I’m probably not an expert or anything.
PYW: OK, well the important thing is to keep your arms crossed over your chest. Don’t stick them out or you might break something.
Me: Exactly how much falling is going to be involved here?
PYW: Haha! Also, don’t touch the ceiling or any of the ductwork when you get to the top.
Me: You’re very optimistic about that possibility.
PYW: Haha! The walls range in difficulty from Beginner to Really Super Hard Crazy Advanced. (*Note: she didn’t actually say ‘Really Super Hard Crazy Advanced’, but I can’t remember the actual name and that’s what it looked like.)
Me: Just point me at the kiddie wall.
PYW: Hahahaha! We don’t have one of those.

Meanwhile, Kate had already chalked up her hands and was raring to go on a course that was on a backwards leaning incline (see pic 1). She directed me to a VB section of wall, which is to say Very Beginner, which I regarded dubiously. “How do I start?” She showed me and then said, “You try it.” I put one toe of my rental shoe on a grip, grabbed a handhold, and was immediately immobilized. I looked to her for help, but she was halfway up another wall, kind of like Spiderwoman. “Keep going, Mom!” she called out as she scaled the wall like a professional. I persevered and managed to make it up the course, which was straight up and had substantial handholds (see pic 2). Still, I made it to the top, about 15 feet up, and got a little excited until I realized that I had to climb back down. I might have looked like a gecko but at least I didn’t fall (see pic 3). I ended up doing a couple of other sections—one was even slightly harder than Beginner, as Kate cheered me on, and then I spent the rest of the time proudly watching her. The next morning when I woke up, I was only slightly screaming from the pain in my arms. And I can’t wait to do it again.


61 thoughts on “Climbing The Walls

  1. Marvel is now 85 pounds, 1 1/2 years old and you just described him perfectly STILL! I walk him alone and then the other two together. My only salvation is the reminder that Ludo was an absolutely shit to walk until around the time when he turned two which, in my experience, is when the light bulb seems to turn on above a golden’s head.

    And I’m afraid of heights. Can we just do a puzzle room instead?

    Liked by 5 people

  2. My advice for walk-training Atlas: get him a harness instead of a collar-leash. Jesse wasn’t leash trained when I got him, either, and that little $10 harness from Target made all the difference. I notice that you’re not carrying a glass of wine in those wall-climbing photos. WTF, Suzanne? Nobody ever conquered Everest without a nice Chardonnay in hand. And BTW, you were right on the money last week: Letterkenny is now my new favorite thing.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh sorry I was so shocked regarding the climb I forgot to say have you thought about getting Atlas a halti which goes around his nose and neck, it worked brilliantly for a boisterous boxer I had. X

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You’re a braver man than I.  Years ago one of the kids froze while we were out climbing and I went after him.  It was all I could do to not get frozen myself but in every situation like that my mom instincts outweighed my fear.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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  5. Omg!! How fun, the rock climbing I mean, not being dragged by Atlas down the block. But the more you climb, the more your arms will strengthen, then I’d bet Altas will be like, wtf I use to drag you and now, your just standing there! 🤪😝🐕‍🦺

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  6. Well done with the bouldering… I have sissy arms, and I would have to master the art of falling before even thinking about giving it a try!

    The part about your walks with Atlas reminded me of a dog we had when I was a kid. Canelle was a basenji (an african dog) that was used to be free in our huge backyard at all times. When we moved back to Canada, she had to ”learn” to walk on a leash, which was a disaster. She was pulling as if her life depended on it, and people started suggesting that we’d use a choker (which seemed silly to us, but you know how strangers always know better…) So we tried it. Once. Canelle pulled so hard on the leash, that she strangled herself, and fell uncounscious. My mom wisely decided that we wouldn’t kill the dog by walking her. LOL

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  7. Atlas needs to know he can’t have wine or otherwise drink alcohol until he’s three. Oh, I forgot, the drinking age in Canada is eighteen, but it’s hard to divide that by seven, so let’s just say two and a half.
    And while I’m impressed by your bouldering skill—thus answering the question “do boulders ever bould?—I’m also impressed by that fantastic mask!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Suzanne: Ken, can you build me a bouldering wall on the back side of the gazebo?
    Ken: That’ll block the hot-tub view to the garden.
    Suzanne: Windows?
    Ken: What’s this box from Fedex?
    Suzanne: Ooh, the set of rock climbing holds. Ken?
    Ken: No.
    Suzanne: Just up the side of the house, in the shade, to start.
    Ken: I can get more ice for your cup.
    Suzanne: How did you get in to my hospital room, you’re not supposed to be here.
    Ken: I gave the orderly a box of funny looking plastic nubby things.
    Suzanne: Ice? You’re sweet. But, could you sneak in a bottle of…

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    • So…I actually already asked him if he thought he could make a climbing wall and he said no. I said, “It’s just a big sheet of plywood with some holds on it. We could prop it up against the spruce trees.” He just laughed and passed me my glass.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m so proud of you! That’s really cool. It’s so great to try something new, and what a fun bonding activity. Fear is actually a great bonder, oddly enough.
    My pup Walt just sat on my rack during our walk. He thinks it’s his own private shelf. I walk Herbie, who is a perfect gentleman on a leash, though he does pee on absolutely everything. The other two are hell hounds so I let Sean take care of them. They make choking sounds that brings dozens of neighbours to their windows, cell phones clutched to their chests just in case police intervention is required. Walt recently ate some of my makeup – I wish he’d stick to contaminating drinks!

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    • I’m so happy to know that Atlas isn’t the only unruly one! Speaking of fear, a few years ago, she and I did the Treetop Climb at Blue Mountain. I reminded her the other day about how terrified I was the whole time, and she admitted that she was too–neither of us knew that about the other because we both acted totally calm!


  10. Well done for trying something new!
    Dougie never got the hang of walking on the lead, it was always too exciting! We did have a halti-type face collar that worked pretty well. Putting the lead back under the chest between the front legs and up at his middle worked (a bit) when he grew out of the collar. But mainly we just run free on the holding and cheat that way.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. How thrilling! That is completely awesome – you look like a natural on that wall.

    A friend of mine tried climbing for the first time a few years ago. She went to the climbing gym with some friends, and asked the person there about the harness. “Can this rope keep me safe?” asked my friend. “Oh yes,” he replied. “This thing can hold an elephant!”

    Liked by 1 person

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