First time climbing outdoors – climbing has hooked yet another..

More details on the first outdoor climbing trip!


So I’m told in North America, this would be what is called crag climbing, in Switzerland it’s called a Klettergarten, or climbing garden. Basically a random cliff in a forest that people put a bunch of routes up, all bolted because that’s how we roll in Switzerland. So I found it online through some complex wizardery which let me highlight gartens which had easy routes. I have recently bumped up my gym climbing skills, but was slightly aprehensive about the great outdoors. We had no rain for three days, a forecasted high of 20, and sunshine on Saturday so off we went!

It was only about 40 minutes away by train and bus, not bad all in all, with a ten minute hike through the forest to get to our destination. I’ve already used the woods photo twice now, which is pushing lame, so I will avoid it and include a screenshot of the first route we did instead. There were a few people there but not many, we wended our way along an extremely muddy and narrow path at the base of the cliff to find some stuff that was my speed, and pulled out our gear. German boy was set to lead climb it, I was set to belay it, and off we went.

Like molasses

Because it felt like everything was covered with butter. Lesson #1 of the day, cliffs in forests tend to get a bit mossy, a bit algae-y, and a bit,,, wet in late October. Check. German boy moved slowly and carefully, each hand hold had to have half a foot of leaves brushed from it, each foothold had to be gigantic because our shoes were flying off everything, up he went and set up the anchor at the top for me to top rope it.

I guess whenever I pictured rock climbing it was more of a sandy experience than a damp one. Sun kissed rocks, sweat, chalky fingers, small holds. This day was none of those things. It was muddy. Really, effing muddy. My mom could tell you a funny story about how when I was a toddler I held my hands out, fingers spread, the entire drive back from the beach because they had gotten dirty and I didn’t like it. Well. These climbs were dirty.

It was frustrating, I had just gotten used to trusting my shoes and now it was like climbing teflon. I think I am up to the challenge of pulling up the rope and clipping it into an express after spending the whole day swiping away leaves, finding mud, trying chalk, giving up and just holding on anyway. It was slow moving, and not technically challenging, but with the knowledge that anything harder was just not possible in conditions that slippery. One move had me dragging my pathetic ass up onto a ledge in an awkward push up to your stomach move, German boy thought I was pausing because I was confused, in reality, I was struggling with the push up. Lesson #2; that weight training should probably start back up again.

We didn’t get a chance to push it, keeping in mind the whole trip was to let me dip my toe into the waters out of the pool, shall we say. I liked it, my toes liked it, but subconsiously I wished I could have tried a cannonball, or hell, even a belly flop, but it wasn’t the time or the place. Two months ago the same difficulty level we climbed outdoors was my limit in the gym, and now, even outdoors I was mentally bored, missing that adrenaline rush, missing the familiar arm cramps and ‘oh shit i’m going to fall oh er look i made it after all’ moments. Progress is cool to see. I am looking forward to testing some lead climbing skills next time in the gym.

It looks like I have gotten completely addicted to this vertical silliness, a new climber has been..made?…found?… discovered?…unearthed? who knows, but she’s happy!


About adventuresunplugged

The world is a really cool place. I moved to Zurich almost three years ago to start my PhD, and have really enjoyed the different opportunites living close to the Swiss alps offered. This blog is about some of my adventures, climbing, mountaineering, rock climbing, traveling... life in general! Wow, haven't updated this bad boy in some time! While the above is still true I have gone on to finish the PhD, so that is Dr Unplugged to you. I also have landed a job in Switzerland and will be shortly moving to Geneva. Clearly I have some adventures ahead left to explore with you guys along for company!
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