I might have given it away in the title, but I’m a huge fan of the WUSTL Climbing Club. Somehow, at the beginning of the semester, I found myself signing up for a membership. I had no idea what I was getting into.
It all started in January when my friend Keaton invited me to come climb with him. I didn’t have much work that weekend, so I figured it would be a fun way to spend a Saturday. I was right. There is just something about that feeling of knowing that you can climb right up a wall that makes you feel invincible. Then there is the leap of faith, when you’re at the top, about to let your partner belay you down, knowing that the knot is tied right, and he’ll catch you, but still praying for dear life anyways, just on the random chance that he slips, or the knot comes undone. In that split second, while you’re suspended in the air, not sure if you’ll plunge 50 feet down, or get slowly lowered in your harness, you’ll have a rush like nothing else.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, try the auto-belays. They make solo-climbing great, because you just clip in and climb to the top. Then, when you get to the top, they make you fear for dear life. It isn’t that they aren’t safe; it’s just that they have a tendency of making your question that they actually work, at the very top of the wall, just when you need them most. I don’t know the exact word for it, but the auto-belay machine has a system where if you apply a lot of pressure, the machine will apply a lot of resistance, but if you apply just a little bit, the machine will only apply a little bit of resistance. The first time I climbed using an auto-belay, I wanted to check to make sure it would hold me, and that I wouldn’t just jump and fall. I started pulling the rope out of the machine, just to make sure it would resist and catch me. I gently pulled, and the rope gently came out. And came out some more. And kept coming out. Before I knew it, I’d pulled out a solid 4 feet of rope. You can imagine me sitting there, at the top of the wall, alone, shaking, scared out of my mind. I ended up climbing halfway down the wall before a chorus of supportive climbers at the bottom reassured me that I’d survive. After letting go, I free-fell for a few seconds before finally being caught by the pulley. That, my friends, is why auto-belays are terrifying.
Terrifying or not, the thing that keeps me coming back to the climbing gym is the fact that WUSTL climbing club has a semester-long, $25 deal, where I pay at the beginning of the semester, and have access to the gym every Wednesday and Friday. It is definitely helping me towards my lifetime goal of having the best day ever.