Originally, my roommate and I were going to head up to Mt. Baker ski area to go out on a tour. The catch to the tour was that Heather, an avid splitboarder, was going to tour and ride on skis and I was going to splitboard…the ultimate switch up right? As rain began pummeling the upper slopes of Washington, we had to change our plans.
Bummed about the weather we decided to leave our cozy cabin in Glacier to head into Bellingham and go indoor climbing. I’ve only been climbing a couple times and have wanted to really dive into the sport. This was a great chance to mix things up! I plan to become proficient enough with my climbing skillset to combine with my backcountry skiing experience and become an all around mountain guide, but my climbing has a long way to go.
Once I arrived in Bellingham I found that the indoor gym was closed for remodeling. Luckily, there’s a bouldering gym down the street. We stepped in and found the place full of talented climbers. At first I was nervous as if we were entering a place we didn’t belong, but as I started to warm up, it felt natural. I easily could’ve spent all day there challenging my mind and muscles. After a few hours my arms were quivering, and I had to call it a day. I was proud to be able to progress up to the more difficult intermediate routes. It felt so good to get out and stretch out new muscles that don’t get as much action during the ski season, and now my mind is racing to get outdoors climbing. I enjoyed the challenge because, to progress, it requires so much mental strategy and strength.
For anyone out there planning to mix it up and try something new, my advice is to do it with good friends. I probably would’ve been way more intimidated had I been by myself. My friend had a little more experience than me, which was great because it pushed me out of my comfort zone in a way that was fun. Plus she was able to help me think through harder routes that I was struggling with. Another thing that really helped was that I finally purchased my own pair of climbing shoes. This made a huge difference versus using rental shoes or squeezing into someone else’s shoes. All I wanted to do was keep climbing since I wasn’t distracted by shoes that were painful or just didn’t fit me correctly.
The coolest thing that I learned from the experience was patience. With skiing it’s so easy to charge into everything. But with climbing I feel like it benefits you more to take your time and look at your route and then really get into it. If you rush into a climbing route without thinking it through, it makes finding that next move so much harder. That aspect of planning and being patient is something I would like to practice more and carry over into other sports.