Rock climbing is one of the hobbies that’s pretty common in the circles I hang around in, and now and then people have tried to lure me to try it was well. I’ve been on an indoor wall once in 2003 or so, as a part of a company activity day. It was quite fun, but after that I’ve never got around to trying it again, neither in or outdoors.
This Sunday I headed off towards Haukkakallio, where Miri, Dare and assorted other people were busy crawling up a granite face. The day was excellent right from the start. The sky was deep blue and almost devoid of clouds, and the temperature was close to +30C. I gunned the car down the highway, blasting Eagles of Death Metal, enjoying the summer and the feeling that all is fundamentally well in the world.
On a tangent, Eagles of Death Metal is simply brilliant summertime music. It makes one want to strut down a sunny avenue, eat ice-cream, drink rum cola and have dirty and sweaty sex. In my opinion this is exactly what summer rock should make you feel like.
In any case, I finally made my way to the Haukkakallio rock face and found the rest of the gang busy up and around the rock wall. The forest was beautiful and the air was hot. There were big, fat and slow horseflies buzzing everywhere, but the scorching sunshine had driven mosquitos in the cool shadows of the caves, grottos and other nooks. The nature was really beautiful all around.
I got some loaner equipment and tried two different routes. First of them was pretty easy after I got past the first meter and half, but on the second one I got stuck two thirds up. I could have probably got further if I had swung my legs up and done some sinew breaking acrobatics, but my ankle was still sore from last Wednesday. I didn’t want to fuck up the joint and with it the next week’s three diving trips, so I did the sensible thing, which was to pussy out and get back down.
In conclusion rock climbing is something I’ll probably continue doing now and then with pals, but I won’t probably get hooked on it like with diving. Climbing was somehow a bit intimidating, but not for the obvious reason, which is the idea of hanging tooth and nail on a rock wall with just a rope between you staying up and plummeting to rocks and splitting your pelvis or heel bone (a completely fictional example).
In the end dangling up there didn’t bother me at all, which was kind of a surprise for me. Somehow the whole thing just felt kind of unforgiving. One missed foot or handhold and you end up with a skinned knee or elbow, and most importantly the realisation that but for the grace of the rope you’d be down in the rocks, busy counting your broken bones. I guess the division between being in control and losing it is a bit too narrow for my taste. Nevertheless, it was really fun and rewarding to get to try something new and get new experiences.
Afterwards we went to a nearby lake for a swim in a cool and surprisingly clear lake, and to barbeque some sausages. My fingertips were completely raw even after just a couple of climbs, which was a bit of a surprise. You tend to think of granite as smooth, but that’s of course the variety you get on shorelines or in buildings. In the nature it’s big grained, rough and surprisingly sharp.
When I stepped back into car, I was feeling happy, at peace and harmonious. Beautiful nature, scratches and sore muscles from physical exercise and that nice smooth feeling you get after washing off the sweat of a summer day in cool lake water. Small moments of perfection.