Finding out about yourself while climbing

Because I had a call at ten this evening, I felt no guilt sloping off at five to go to the climbing wall for an assessment. The purpose of that was to see how fit I am, and then recommend what I do next. So most of it wasn’t around seeing if I could clamber between different rocks, so much as how in control of my limbs and torso I am, and how much strength I have to muster.

As such, one should be quite neutral about what you discover. If you can execute a perfect squat, that’s great, but it just means there are other things to concentrate on. Likewise, if you’re all wonky and one arm is weaker than the other, it’s good to know that so that you know where to fix things.

Well, that’s the theory.

In practice, it can be quite mortifying to find you can’t do more than two pull-ups, or you don’t have the strength in your fingers to dangle from just six of them. (Although before I tried it, this was never a failing of my fingers that had previously concerned me.) I don’t spend that much of my life actively swallowing my pride, so it wasn’t always comfortable to realise bits of my body aren’t as wonderful as they could be.

But again, areas to improve on. Certainly in the two months or so that I’ve been climbing, I’ve got stronger. I can hang from a bar for more than twenty seconds now, even if that isn’t really the most impressive feat of physical prowess you’ll ever see. With my current rate of improvement, watch out for me in the Cirque du Soleil in 2047.

After all the dangling and squatting and press-ups and stretching and turning, we went to the wall itself and I did three different problems. All of them pretty easy – 6 to 8 on the Australian scale, which equates to "come off it mate, you’re not trying that hard, are ya?" and I assume are done by cobbers with zinc oxide on their noses and a hat with corks hanging from the brim just before they go surfing a crocodile down a wave made entirely of Great White sharks and funnel web spiders. Or whatever it is Australians do for fun.

Anyway, that was my evening. I came home, covered in climbing chalk, unbelievably tired (I spent an hour today in a recording studio declaiming my lines for an advert, so that was the mental stress of the day) and then had the kids refuse to sleep until close to 10pm. Thanks, guys.

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