Books! Climbing tests! Sunshine oh my!

Though to be fair, I am taking two classes this semester so its impact was possibly to be expected. Anyway.


ImageIt must be such a fun job to deliver parcels and see everyone get super excited that what they ordered has arrived, or that someone has sent them a surprise present. Maybe not just the normal mail, because that’s basically just bills and flyers no one wants, collating those things was never much fun when we were a kid but our cats like playing with the things that bound them up. Anyway, I digress, my new books have arrived and I have gotten as far as opening the box and spreading them out on my desk but unfortunately not yet any farther! I am looking forward to digging in, so if you see me wandering around Zurich with a compass, chances are good I have started.


One of the reasons I hadn’t had a chance to open them yet was Tuesday I took part in a very awesome and also very Swiss procedure. My school (university or what have you) has a truly epic sports program. I mean it. 120+ sports in every environment from every level, they will even coach you to a triathlon, really just awesome, but unfortunately for me, they teach exclusively in German, sometimes High German, sometimes Swiss German. So, I did do the trail ice climbing course in mostly German, Imagebut I still have hesitations trusting my ‘advanced beginner’ German to learning things that truly are essential, really essential for keeping me and other people safe. So I learn things at the private climbing gyms in Zurich in English and it goes well, but of course, no one recognizes anyone else’s teaching, so to ASVZ (sports people), I still know nothing. I get the whole double checking, different standards thing, sure, and they take a lot of people into the mountains, so better safe than sorry. I do not agree that you need to know how to lead climb before you can make any mountain tour, but we disagree on this item. Anyway, so I signed up for an ‘Einstufung’ aka a climbing test to see what I knew how to do. Very swiss. Very funny, a little stressful with everyone watching and assessing every tiny detail.


There were 8 of us there for the test, two other girls, who unfortunately were definitely in the wrong place. They had no idea how to tie knots, what the belay device did, nothing. Someone had told them to make this test to find the right course, but for them the right course was the total beginner course because they knew nothing. I tried to keep control of my eyebrows while they debated with the instructor dudes, and was internally extremely pleased when they called over someone else to belay me. I climbed my 4c route, belayed on a top rope and clipping expresses into a second rope, and it all went fine.I belayed the next guy, it all went fine. I got my certificate saying I was the equivalent of completing the Grundkurs, which I thought was legitimate, and got a bit of a lecture about hand positions while belaying.

I mean, everyone does this, we loosen up a bit, we get a bit complacent. Maybe not all the way to actually dangerous, for example my stop hand was somewhere closer to the front of my hip than behind my hip, and when I tugged down on his harness to do the partner check I didn’t really giver and jump on the thing. Small deviations from strict textbook safety, but that’s what the test was about.

Was I sure his harness was fastened properly and wouldn’t drop him should he end upside down?


Can you still stop a fall with your hand slightly in front of your hip rather than strictly beside your ass?


Is it good to go back and climb with instructors watching who can point out these deviations from textbook before they become something that could actually be sloppy and dangerous?


I don’t think we do this enough as adults. We catch a couple falls but most of the time climbing nothing happens, at all. We know we can do it, and we do it properly, but we don’t do it perfectly, and maybe, one time, that hand really would have needed to be beside my ass to catch someone, who knows. I will be going to their ‘led trainings’ a few times over the next few months and have people correct me back to textbook, give me tips on my climbing efficiency and rope handling, tips and tricks for express clipping and pause taking. I am also going back to the private gym to get a full blown lead climbing course, their 2nd of three Grundkurse’s, where I will end up being damn sure I know what’s what and what goes where, and will practice falling on lead as well.

So am I worried about my safety in the mountains, or how it affects my partners?

No, because if I was, I wouldn’t be there doing it.


Climbing tonight with the new Academic Alpine Club dudes and dudette’s, possibly climbing Sunday, tossing some experiments and Olympic hockey watching into the mix


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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