By Tim (Social Content Guy)
I am blessed to live in the mountains of Colorado. One amazing aspect of living here is the proximity to spectacular rock climbing opportunities. Prior to moving here I had never tried rock climbing, though I had often thought about giving it a try. After moving out West from Minnesota I met several fellas who enjoyed rock climbing. I purchased a pair of rock climbing shoes and was thrilled when they asked if I wanted to join them. We headed to Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs. The sky was partly cloudy but it looked like the weather would be fine for climbing. My oldest brother was visiting and he, along with my two-year-old son, had come along to watch. I was using my Large Leather Satchel as a diaper bag and had packed a few things for my son in it. I stuffed it in the bottom of the jogging stroller just in case.
We walked into the climbing area and soon had picked out our first route. We set up the ropes and I watched as a friend led the route. They asked if I wanted to give it a try and I excitedly got on my harness and learned how to tie a solid knot as well as some basic communication needed for climbing on belay. I struggled to get up the beginning of the route, as I had no idea what to do with my feet, not to mention it being the first time I’d worn climbing shoes. One thing you need to know about climbing shoes is that they are not comfortable! You purposely buy them a bit small so your feet can be a stable as possible when climbing. After a few attempts and lots of encouragement from friends, I was able to make some progress and eventually complete the route.
What I didn’t expect was how hard it would be to repel down. If you have never been climbing it is hard to explain. I tied my own knot with my friend’s help. He did a wonderful job of belaying while I climbed and I took no falls at all. Yet when it came time to repel down I froze. I suddenly didn’t trust the knot I had tied. And frankly, I didn’t quite trust my friend either. I tried sliding down a bit but he yelled up and told me to sit back and just ‘walk’ down the rock. Yeah right! You want me to take my hands off the rock and rope and just walk down? Eventually I took a deep breath and awkwardly made my way back down. It was a quick view into my heart to see whom or what I truly trust.
After a few of the guys climbed the route we decided to head to the other side of the climbing area to set up another route. Shortly after we got over there the clouds really built up and we wondered if it was time to pack up. After picking out a route we had our answer. BOOM! A big clap of thunder resounded in the canyon followed by raindrops. Before we knew it the rain, mixed with some hail, was pouring down. I had parked the car a little further away than what was ideal for the situation. After talking with my brother over the loud rain and my two year olds’ cries, I ran to the car to move it closer. By the time I got to the car I was soaked! I found a closer parking spot then sprinted back to where my brother had found a bit of shelter. The rain was still pelting down but my son was scared and very wet so we risked the sprint back to the car. All of us were completely drenched by the time we got back.
I fired up our trusty Toyota Corolla and turned on the heat. Thankfully I had packed an extra pair of clothes for my two year old in my Large Satchel. I figured they would be soaked too since the Satchel had been in the bottom compartment of the stroller. What a relief to open up the Satchel, which was wet on the outside, to find the clothes were completely dry still! I quickly changed him and he calmed down immediately. Despite the crazy weather I had a blast and couldn’t wait to go climbing again.
Since my initial climbing experience I have been out climbing many more times. I have learned a lot and grown very close with several of the climbers. There is something about getting out on an expedition, like climbing, that builds trust amongst friends. I have also learned to always have my Large Satchel, or now, my Simple Backpack with me so I know my gear, clothing, and other items will always be safe and dry. There’s something to be said about a bag that you can trust when you’re out in the wilderness and can never really know what might happen next. I look forward to teaching my kids how to rock climb, as well as, passing down my Saddleback bags to them so they can take excellent care of their gear.