Needless to say, I was pretty bummed after watching Penn State lose to USC on New Year's Day. So to get my mind off it, Kent took me climbing at North Summit Climbing Gym, which was on my Top 5 Things To Do in Lehigh Valley list.
Considering it's been two years since we’ve been climbing, we steered clear of the more challenging types of climbing North Summit offers (bouldering and lead) and elected for top rope, the safest form of climbing.
North Summit has top rope routes that range from 4 to 12b in difficulty; each route is marked by different colored tape along the hand/foot-holds that are bolted into the wall. We started on with a 6.
I was 15 feet off the ground, securely strapped into a harness and attached to a rope, which Kent was expertly belaying, when my fear of heights kicked in. Waving my arms at Kent to say "let me down ... now!", I tried my hardest to not freak out in front of the large group of parents and boy scouts who were scrambling up the 35-foot walls like monkeys.
Once I regained my composure, I tried a 5. This time, I made it 25 feet off the ground and got stuck - not because of the height, but because I couldn't find a comfortable way to maneuver myself up the rest of the wall and my arms were like jelly.
Finally, we found an open 4. It took me a while, because I had to mentally push myself past the soreness in my body that was making me want to quit, but I finally made it to the top.
With my fear of heights temporarily conquered and a complete climb under my belt, I was done for the day. While Kent did some bouldering, I watched some of the more advanced climbers and realized how beautiful the sport of climbing is. I can only hope that one day I will look as graceful climbing a wall as they did.