Oh, and I got my Top-Roping license on Wednesday!

Posted on 22.01.2012

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For our anniversary, I got René and I signed up to do the top-roping classes that are required in order to do any top-roping in a gym in Germany. We took the first class together last Saturday, and I took the second (final) class on Wednesday night. René will have to take that class when he comes back from his work trip.

The classes lasted 3.5 hours each and were really, really great. I took a similar class in Baltimore, when I belonged to Earth Treks, but this was WAY more in-depth. I found out why at the end of the course, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I had a hard time imagining what could POSSIBLY take 3.5 hours in a class with 5 people. It turned out that the first class was the basic of the basics. We began on the first day with a bit of traversing in the boulder room, and then headed over to the learning area with the top ropes already set up. We spent an hour going over knots and safety, and specific ways to hold the rope, where to put our hands, what NOT to do. It was informative, but I was still feeling a bit scared after what happened in November with an English student.

After all of the tying, security and etc, we spent the next two hours climbing. We would have learned to climb if we’d been a class of beginners, but since it was 50/50-ish, there was more time to focus on and help the newer climbers, and the rest of us could just climb at our leisure.

At the end of the course, our teacher (Paul) informed us that we could take the second (and final) course with him later in the week if we were free. He was going on vacation on Thursday, so we had to make up our minds, fast. Everyone agreed it would be better to do it before his vacation, so we agreed on Wednesday and went home.

I couldn’t figure out what we would do on the second day for another 3.5 hours, but it was actually a great class. Paul couldn’t make it, so his father (also a teacher at the gym) came instead. I could understand his father (Thomas) a LOT better (this was all in German, btw.. I learned a LOT of new words!!) and Thomas gave us a TON of extra, helpful information.

The majorly amazing and scary thing that he made us do was to fall off the wall, while our partners held us on the lines below. This was kind of nerve-wracking. Imagine being 20 or 30 feet up, and seeing Thomas make your partner LOOSEN the rope, leaving up to 2 feet of slack, and then telling you to ‘fall’. It was stressful, but also kind of exhilarating. And most importantly, it made us all realize that even if our partner did fall, we could catch them with no problem. This really cured my fear of dropping a person, which I’d gained a few months ago. I’m really thankful that we did that.

So at the end of the class, I asked if there was a lead-climbing (vorsteigen) class that we could sign up for next. Thomas said there was no such class, because by the end of THIS class, we were expected to really be safe and secure climbers… from there, lead is not a huge leap. But if we wanted, he’d be happy to practice with us if we wanted the assistance.

Um, awesome.

I kind of can’t wait to try lead climbing. And I’m really happy that we took the classes, because now I can top-rope anywhere in Germany, I feel totally secure in my skill level, and we made some new climbing friends through the course! There were only 5 of us; two of the others were a couple, and then a single chick who is a GERMAN teacher! So we had a lot to talk about, and found out that our schedules are really similar. So I told her I’d be happy to meet with her in the middle of the workday to climb whenever she wanted to! I can’t wait! I really missed top-roping. So much.

So now I have a neat little card to carry in my bag, that says I’m safe and know how to climb. Awesome!

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Posted in: climbing