Does a Flattering Angle Exist in Rock Climbing?

The idea of sky diving and bungee jumping has never appealed to me. I’m not interested in falling – I’m interested in flying!

I have no problem (for the most part!) with airplanes, chairlifts at ski resorts, or rooftops of high-rise buildings. The thought of dangling by a rope or free-falling on the other hand, is downright terrifying.

I added rock climbing to my list because I know it’s a killer work out and I thought that if I could feel comfortable rock climbing, my fear of heights would be quelled.

Actually, I tried rock climbing once a long time ago in San Francisco. My sister took me with her friends and I remember making it to the top and being frozen at the top. I did not want to come down! I remained for quite a long time and once I safely on solid ground – I didn’t try to go up again and never put the harness back on! But, that was a long time ago. I decided I’d give it a try again.

One of my friends, Norma, recently shared with me that her work was having a “sweat challenge”! Different activities would result in a varying amounts of points. When I saw that rock climbing was an option, I told her that we should pick a date and just do it!

I also mentioned it to my friend Chris who happens to be game for pretty much everything so with that we had three eager newbies! I chose Cliffhanger because of their central location close to the Vancouver downtown core. They also offered a special called “Just Climbing” where you a staff member is available to assist with the rope work for a minimum of 3 people allowing you and your friends to just climb! for 2 hours!

We arrived and gaped at this:

Chris, Norma and I all agreed that the walls were higher than we pictured in our minds!

After quickly signing a few forms, we paid $24.00 each (rental equipment included!) and put on our shoes and harness. We were introduced to our Belayer, “Memo”. I told him right away, “I have tried this before – but I stayed at the top for 10 minutes! I don’t like high places!” He assured me he would put a lot of tension on the rope and that I would be fine.

Chris attempted the wall first.


Then Norma went up…


They both made it half-way for their first go.

I went next.

Memo instructed us to say “climb” when we were ready to go and if we needed a break, we should yell “tension” and he would hold onto the rope and let us hang. At one point I told him, “tension!”. I could already feel the fear sink in; I thought about coming down but Memo told me to keep going. Encouraged, and also..forced, I continued on until the very top!

I felt so accomplished!!


Memo started to give some slack on the rope for me to come down but I told him no!! Not yet! I want to stay here! He encouraged me to let go and use my feet to “walk down the wall”.

Nope, wasn’t happening for me! After a minute or so..I clung on to the rope for dear life and was slowly lowered down. I was a bit hysterical as I was descending but once I was about 6-7 feet from the ground I felt a lot better and finally calmer as my feet hit the ground.

Chris and Norma both went all the way to the top next and were much calmer as they were lowered down:

WHY IS SHE SO HAPPY?? Haha.. Clearly my friends did not have the same panic attack hit them 🙂

We moved onto a different, more challenging side next. Same problem for me thought – still freaked out. But at least this time I was hovering around the bouldering section (to the left in the picture below) and random strangers were soothing my fears with encouraging statements like, “you’re doing great!” I finally was able to let go of the ropes and fake a smile for the camera below.


In the end, we all managed 6 climbs each within the 2 hours – not too bad.

After introducing Chris to skiing at Whistler last year through a trip I organized, and then rock climbing on this day, he announced that I was his life coach, yay!

He was also the one to point out that all the photos I took of him were from unflattering angles. Well, when all you really have to work with as a rock climbing photographer are ass shots, you can’t be too picky.

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