A few weeks ago some friends and I climbed rocks at Earth Treks in Timonium, MD. It wasn’t a whim, we’d been talking about it, but the day was gloomy and cold and the impossibility of doing anything outside reminded us of the idea. The building resembles a tall warehouse except for the word “Climb!” in neon on the front. Finding a parking spot was tough, and once inside we saw the place was packed. The staff, however, was calm and smiling, happy to help us with our first expeditions. A girl about my age was designated to belay us, hold the rope so we didn’t plummet three stories to the ground. She seemed knowledgeable and was enthusiastic about climbing so I wasn’t worried. We hiked up our rented harnesses, put on our elfish climbing shoes and headed for the wall.
I looked up at the wall and back down to our belay assistant who offered a reassuring glance. I took a deep breath, as I grabbed ahold of the first two rough, chalky rocks. After a few slow steps, I moved more quickly. The wall became a puzzle, my feet and hands moving to find the best holds and fastest route. Before I knew it I’d reached the top. I yelled as I was lowered back down to the ground. My friends laughed as we high-fived and moved on to a more difficult wall. By the third or fourth climb, my forearms were swollen and nearly numb. My fingers were bright red and arches were sore. I didn’t care; the adrenaline of climbing kept me going. We chose to quit for the day, fumbling with our harnesses due to our out-of-shape grip strength. A week later we took an Introduction to Climbing class and we’ve been there nearly every day since.
I’ve invested in a more comfortable harness and feel my arms, hands, core and legs getting stronger. Earth Treks offers yoga on Tuesdays with my favorite studio, Charm City Yoga.
Earth Treks opened its doors in Colorado in 2013 after providing an outdoor guide service for over 20 years. They now own some of the biggest climbing gyms in the country.
My friends and I are taking an introduction to movement class next weekend, and I’m hoping I’ll be more graceful.
—Follow Sarah Grace McCarthy on Twitter: @birdy_grace