I first tried rock climbing in 1999 in Railey Bay, Thailand, an area that attracts climbers from around the world. My best friend and I were staying there and befriended a group of Swedish rock climbers. They convinced us and a few other novices to join them for some basic climbs.
On my first rock crevice grab to pull myself up, I was hooked. We spent the next few days going on rock climbing adventures. It was a very special time in my life and a period where I learned a lot about myself and healed many wounds in the process.
I came home determined to be a rock climber, but you know how those things go sometimes. A piece of that joy is left behind in the memories of the moment you shared and because you can’t recreate that, you kind of let it go. Sometimes things arrive to us to give us something special in that moment, not to necessarily become a lifelong pursuit.
Indoor rock climbing is not something I ever thought of doing while travelling. What’s the point really? It’s about being one with the real rocks out in nature. Yet, I could never make that happen as I didn’t have the gear or anyone to climb with.
On our visit to Wollongong, we spent the afternoon at Hangdog climbing gym. And had a blast. As soon as I started climbing, that old feeling came flooding back. My mind was working with nature to help me achieve a goal (except it wasn’t really nature this time) It’s a powerful feeling and very addictive.
What’s so great about rock climbing is you are always looking and moving up. So the fear of heights doesn’t get too overwhelming. Best way to try and achieve any goal really isn’t it? It wasn’t long before I reached the top, and then I looked down.
Geez, it’s high. “Okay, Craig, I’m ready to come down now.”
That’s what I love about rock climbing too. It’s about working with someone else and learning to trust. Craig was pretty nervous at first with me belaying for him. He had to give me the instructions several times and get the lady to tell me again. I don’t know what he was worried about as I didn’t let him fall.
Although, I did not trust myself enough to belay for Kalyra. Craig was there as her support keeping her safe, and I was there cheering her from the bottom. She jumped straight into it with little fear. Until she got to a point where she realized how high she was. She yelled to let her down and when she reached the bottom she whispered, “Mummy, I was crying up there I was so scared.”
“I’m not surprised, it’s a scary thing to do and your first time. You were very brave. You may have been scared, but you still did it and came back down safely.”
She asked to go again and found her happy place, the blue rock. As soon as she reached there she’d ask to come back down. Each time, she went back up , I told her she needed to try and go one step more.
It’s good to go to our comfort zone, but then we need to push ourselves just that little bit more, it’s how we grow.
She didn’t have the confidence to do it yet, and let me know, by saying, “It’s my choice.”
“You are so right.”
She did however choose to climb the free swinging ladder, something I am too scared to try. I have a thing about ladders. Up and down she went for again and again, showing what a scaredy cat I was. I saw the same euphoric joy on her face that I discovered all those years ago rock climbing in Railey.
She was learning so much about herself and having a really great time.
So far it has been her favourite part of our trip. We were walking down to the river in Kangaroo Valley today and she clapped her hands and squealed, “Are we going rock climbing Mummy? I love rock climbing.”
Maybe we’ll see her on the cliff walls at Railey’s one day.
Have you done rock climbing before? What about with your kids? Share your experiences.