The Call of the Void – And Climbing!


I’m not scared of heights. I’m scared of a weird desire to fall forward once I look over a high ledge. The French have a phrase L’appel du vide to describe this sensation – literally the call of the void – that makes looking over a high ledge not nearly as scary as the question of surviving the impact. Luckily the Bouldering walls at Stone Summit climbing gym don’t get much higher than 10 feet. And the padding makes for a comfy impact as long as you don’t hyper-extend your wrists. Or fall on your face.

Patrick invited a bunch of us to give the climbing gym a try with a free pass, and few things attract my attention like free crap. I’d climbed a few times before but never in a space so large and sweaty. Not that the smell was a turn off. If anything, I’d be suspicious if the gym didn’t smell like a wet gym sock on entering. It’d be as surprising as finding a chef who isn’t fat.

“few things attract my attention like the idea that I don’t have to pay for something”

The cool part about climbing is that it allows for all body types. Let me explain with a Dungeons and Dragons analogy: the benefit of being as muscley as I am means that I have a fairly high strength score, meaning that short bursts of energy to hoist myself up aren’t a problem. This manifested when I got stuck on a course 10 feet up in the air and clung to a hold with only my hands. I was able to dangle for a long while by just my hands and, while searching for the next holds, do pull-ups around the boulder face until I knew where to go next (point of bragging: my climbing companions were seriously impressed by this). But the other side to this is that people with high strength scores tend to be freakin’ enormous, meaning they have low agility and endurance. Case example: courses that involve supporting my entire body weight solely on my fingers ended poorly for me.

Elliot on the other hand is sly and nimble, which let him to spider up walls with speed and dexterity that rivaled an angry koala. His endurance bordered the robotic, and his only trouble came in moments that required an extra push to reach the top. But even then he completed more courses than I did.

By the time we were finished, I wanted to die. Which of course means next time I’ll try harder.

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