Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Climbing Rumney, NH, Monday, 10 October 2011 8:00pm

When my sister Anaka mentioned that she'd be rock climbing in Rumney, I started asking around to see if someone could lend or rent climbing gear for me. I left mine in San Francisco, since it didn't seem likely that I'd use it on the trip, and it would take up precious space. Luckily, Amelia, one of the people coming on the retreat, said she could probably find gear for me and asked if she could join us. She borrowed a motorcycle helmet, and we rode out to Rumney Rocks in the morning.

Climbing on actual rock is very different from climbing in the gym, it turns out. One obvious difference is that the hand and foot holds aren't brightly-colored pieces of plastic set bolted to a wall. Instead, they're features of the rock face. Sometimes the handholds are fairly easy to see because previous climbers have climbed the route with chalk on their hands and some chalk has been left behind, but often it's a matter of feeling around to see what you can get enough of a grip on. The handholds at Rumney are also smaller than most of the ones I climb on at the gym, and also harder and sharper. The more experienced climbers in my sister's group said that Rumney was unusually sharp, so that may not hold true elsewhere.

Footholds are even trickier than handholds, particularly in borrowed shoes. They're not typically indicated by chalk (since climbers don't chalk their shoes). It's hard to tell if a particular foot placement will provide enough friction to hold my weight while I'm reaching for the next handhold.

Overall, it was much more mentally challenging to climb these routes than the ones at the gym, and generally much easier physically. However, the routes I climbed at Rumney were rated much lower than I'd climb in a gym (5.7, 5.7+, 5.8, 5.7 instead of the 5.10c-5.11a routes that I was working on before I left San Francisco).

We were at the climbing site from 9am to 4pm. When I got my phone out of my bag, I noticed that at noon, the people at the cabin had left me a voice mail. There was a miscommunication and Amelia's ride back to Boston had left without her. We discussed the options and agreed that she didn't have highway-capable riding clothes. It's one thing to ride twenty minutes along country roads, but something else entirely to undertake a two hour ride to Boston along the Interstate. Happily, Anaka had space in her car and was able to take Amelia back to Lebanon NH, where she had friends to stay with until she could arrange transport back to Boston.

I rode into Boston and met up with Jascha (once upon a time my housemate in San Francisco) and we had BBQ for dinner at Redbones.