Posts Tagged With: bouldering

Your Secret Superpower

Have you ever hung around someone from a different region of the country?

I had a friend in the military, his name was Brandon, and he was from New Hampshire. We would hang out when we weren’t on duty and being that he was a New Englander he had certainly phrases and ways of saying things (colloquialism) that were very different from my Ohio upbringing. Eventually I found myself saying things the way he did. Listening to the same music, and even smoking the same cigarettes that he did. My friend had a secret superpower that I had never even knew existed.


He never set out to influence me, it happened by chance. If you spend enough time with someone they tend to rub off on you. You pick up phrases, habits, even world views. Think about it. Do you see the world the same now as when you were in high school? A lot of people’s view of life changes when they get to college or have a life changing experience. I see the world differently now then from when I wasn’t disabled. People, books, movies, experiences, all of these and more have an influence over us, but have you ever stopped to wonder what you influence everyday?

My son loves video games and movies. If he could he’d sit on the couch all day long and rot his brain until it’s seeping out of his ears. I’m not talking about National Geographic documentaries that we used to watch, no I’m talking about cartoons that offer up nothing but 22 minutes of mindless entertainment. He’d do it all day and all night without question.

Back in 2009 we took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It reawakened my desire to explore the outdoors again; it had been put on the back burner for awhile, but now it was burning hot again. Eventually this led to a desire to try rock climbing. After researching and reading, watching videos and day dreaming my family and I spent a Saturday afternoon  at a local outfitter and their bouldering cave in the basement. Needless to say we were exhausted after about fifteen minutes. I was sweating, I was tired, my forearms wanted to slap me in the face then go run into a corner and cry they hurt so bad.

I was hooked. SN852092

It was exercise that wasn’t exercise. It was fun and new. Our son was four years old about to turn five and he was hooked too. Now he’s on a climb team and we’re in the second year of climbing and members at a climbing gym. We volunteered at a recent comp and anytime my son hears the words Vertical Endeavors he pipes up, smiles, and wonders when we’re going to go. He hates leaving the gym. He can’t stand to take his shoes off. Chalked up hands, sweaty, tired and wanting more and more. He climbs until his little hands hurt and the skin is peeling off where callouses form. He transforms from a couch potato to a little crushing climber.


My little guy would have never gotten the climbing bug had I not influenced him and given him the experience and shared with him what has become a mutually attraction to this terrific outdoor adventure. He has yet to catch on to my love of hiking (too much walking he says) but when he gets out there he loves it. I’ve taken him snowshoeing and I find that who I am and what I endorse influences him more then what I realize. My values and favorites all-of-a-sudden become his during our conversations.

Me: “Mmmm…. I love asparagus it’s one of my favorite vegetables!”

Son: “It’s one of my favorite vegetables too!” (This after him never having eaten them before…..ever)

We can influence the next generation, we can influence our friends and family, our influence can stretch beyond our zip codes, our race, our gender, and our language. It’s a superpower that has no bounds, but it’s a superpower that should have boundaries. It should be harnessed and focused for good; for the betterment of those who look to us and glean from us. They incorporate it into their lives. So what are people incorporating into their lives being around you? Is it a love for the outdoors that is positive and ethical? Is your influence one that inspires greatness in others?

If you’re not a comic book/movie nerd who has read/seen Spider-Man let me borrow a quote from Uncle Ben.

“With great power comes great responsibility”

What are you going to do with your superpower?

How do you use your superpower?

How do you use your superpower?

For good or evil?

For good or evil?

Until next time………..Adventure On!

Categories: Climbing, Family Vacation, Hiking, Insight, Outdoor Adventure, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Come and Gone

As I have woken up every morning to get to work I’ve noticed a significant change in the morning air temperatures. It had been consistently cooler, ranging for the mid 50’s to the mid 60’s around 7am as I made my way to my bus. A signal to me that the summer was coming to a close and that another half of a year is gone forever. A sobering thought to one who when he looked back at summer realized that it came and went without a significant memory made.

I missed out on a summer, and I cannot tell you where it went. We had some above average heat which caused me to not be able to hit the trail at all. I’ve noticed though that there were other things that fell by the wayside. The commitment to keeping The Bionic Chronicles up-to-date was simply not happening as often. My participation on Twitter slacked off. Also my climbing dropped to virtually nothing at all. So many of life’s responsibilities began to overwhelm me and my family. The house isn’t going to clean itself, the chores won’t get done on their own. Time slipped away and with it the hopes and dreams of accomplishments that I once fantasized about now had slipped through my fingers. I missed the community of commenters to this website. I missed my Twitter friends, and I missed out on many adventures that would have filled my ‘post hopper’ with stories of adventures by The Bionic Family.

Some of the favorite posts that we write here on The Bionic Chronicles are about our weekend family adventures. Those are easy to write and share and it’s unique content which is nice since we’re not trying to rehash what 20 other blogs have written. I created this blog, this special piece of the internet to share my life and the life of my family is how we cope, adapt, enjoy, and suffer through our time together. We’re a unique grouping; you’ve got a man whose desires are greater then his physical body can handle, a woman learning to adapt to a new type of lifestyle, and the child they drag along and try their best to share what they believe is an important aspect of life with. Combined these ingredients can make for a fantastic adventure.

We are most likely not going to reach our goal of 100 Miles in 2012, so many unforeseen circumstances stole away the most precious of outdoor resources, time. So the summer is gone and the autumn arrive with the promise of adventure around the corner. Things are looking up for fall as a change in schedules looks to bring forth more opportunities. Our son now is old enough to join the climbing team at the local gym, he’s going to be a Spider Monkey. I’m getting over a recent Sciatica issue and will be heading back to a local fitness center to help give my body the training it needs given the disability I live with. With the fall comes cooler temperatures which for me means easier hiking as the swelter and energy-draining heat gives way to cool breezes and the need for one of my favorite pieces of outdoor clothing, the fleece jacket/pullover.

For those faithful readers look for a change in voice as there is a change in the weather. We’re looking to offer on this site more of our stories and less tips, tricks, and advice. You can find that elsewhere, we know some people who do it quite well. We’re getting back to our roots, returning to our first love. Returning to a life spent in adventure, and the tales of days come and gone.

Until next time……Adventure On!!!

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Backpacking, Camping, Climbing, Family Vacation, Insight, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Rhythm of Success

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a rare opportunity to climb without our son tagging along to the gym.  Now that I’ve overcome my fear of belaying my husband (2 twists in the rope helps boost my confidence!), we were looking forward to some focused climbing time.

Only I bombed.  For some unknown reason, my brain was not in the game that day.  I was getting short of breath, failing to execute simple moves, and that compounded my exasperation.  I wondered if it had anything to do with my time off from injuring my shoulder.

As I considered why I was so off, the closest comparison and explanation I could come up with was that my rhythm was off.  When I play piano, I have a certain ritual of arranging the bench, the music, even my hair.  I do it without thinking.  I didn’t even know it existed until my biggest fan (my mom) pointed it out to me.  These simple arrangements allowed my mind to focus, distractions to fade, and I could execute my performance with excellence.

This was not the case for climbing that day.  It went something like this:

Bouldering at the Climbing Gym

“On belay?”

“Belay is on.”


“Climb on.”  I climb up two holds.

My wedding ring is still on!  How did I forget to take it off?  I reach with my right hand, move my left foot into position.

It sure is grinding into my finger. Climb a few more feet.

Which of these holds is actually on this route?  There are 5 different colors here!  Move another move up.

I hope I don’t hurt my shoulder.

Not the most helpful, focused internal dialogue.

While I’ve been taught to tie in and go through the climbing commands and checks to ensure safety, I don’t think I’ve yet embraced the process as my mental preparation.

The more I climb the more I believe climbing is 50% mental and 50% physical.  If I don’t have it together in my head, its better to not even get on the wall.

For much of my life, playing piano meant that distractions would fade, music would surround me and for a time I’d be transported elsewhere.  It wasn’t my experience when I first started however.

I hope that as I progress in climbing, that when I hear “climb on”, distractions disappear, my thoughts fade away and I send with confidence.

Until next time, send on.

[Also: I have to apologize publicly to my husband for my last post.  It was never my intention to paint him as someone who is inept.  In fact he is quite the opposite.  He is truly inspiring for all the trials and challenges he perseveres through.  I thought I was being funny in my last post, but I realized later that it could be interpreted as mean spirited or demeaning, and that is certainly not my intent.  My first post on this blog more accurately describes how I view him.]

Categories: Climbing, Insight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

First Ascents

It’s been over a month since our last post.  We’ve been busy living rather than blogging, and my husband has some non-outdoor projects he’s been focused on.  We also realized that we could be slipping into the dangerous area of focusing on creating content rather than enjoying life and what we love, a concept that Jon Acuff recently blogged about.  So while our posts may be more infrequent for a time, rest assured, we’ll be back at some point or another.

A few weeks ago, we spent a gorgeous spring day exploring a local climbing area, Interstate Park.  Unfortunately there was no climbing for the adults since we were both healing from shoulder issues.

The first few moves of Banana Cookie (with intensive spotting from me!)

And the minor detail of not yet owning a rope and anchors.  That’s right, no free soloing for us. We were relegated to hiking and trying not to drool while watching others climb.  This didn’t prevent our son from topping out on a first ascent of a boulder problem he named “Banana Cookie”.  We are tentatively calling it a VK (for kindergartner) and for locals who dare to try it’s located off the Echo Canyon trail on the Wisconsin side of the park.

As we don’t yet own crash pads, the endeavor was accomplished with an intensive two spotter method.  When I realized he was actually going to make it to the top and my arms couldn’t reach that high, my husband jumped in to spot from the bottom, and I climbed up the back of the boulder to be ready to reach down from the top if needed.

One move before the mantle finish of Banana Cookie.

So now my son, at 5 years old, is the first in the Cardwell household to climb (for real) on real rock and top out a boulder.

100 miles update

We are now down to 81.6 miles to go for the remainder of 2012.   We’ve found out that we can actually do longer hikes now that all 3 of us have trekking poles.  It’s a psychological advantage that we are milking for all its worth.  Even though the little guy still really doesn’t know how to use them, he believes he can hike farther now. 🙂

Banana Cookie Boulder Problem

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Climbing, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Crafting a Climbing Family

We’re a climbing family now. A new climbing family, but one none the less.

Bouldering at the Climbing Gym

So how did we become a family of rock jockeys? If you take a look at roster you might wonder how a disabled man, his non-athletic wife, and their 5 yr old son became climbers. The process is very interesting one that I’m about to explore.

In The Beginning……

I’ve always been an outdoorsy kind of guy. I grew up camping and hiking, I spent my senior year of high school in Colorado which gave me more exposure to better hiking terrain (I prefer strenuous elevation gain hiking) and always jumped at the chance to hit the trail. I was never one who had the opportunity or even the desire to climb sheer rock faces. I did however climb at 14er (14,000’+ summit) in Colorado and did some peak bagging on my own, this included some class 3 and class 4 scrambling: the closest I had come to climbing….ever. Then it happened, I was crippled in an accident and my days of athletic activity I thought had ended. At least on the levels I desired.

I did a hike or two after my accident but the experience was so exhausting and painful that regardless of the views and the sheer pleasure of hiking it was years before I ever hit the trail again. It would be years before I ever considered getting back to an outdoor life like the one I had.

A Reignited Fire

A few years after my wife and I were married I decided to put together a vacation, our first as a family. I opted to take us out west to Yellowstone National Park, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. While out there, to make a long story short, we hiked Elephant Back Mountain and I discovered that not only did I do FAR better then I expected, but also that my three year old son (almost four) finished strong too. There was a glimmer of hope that with some assistance (ankle and back braces….lots of braces) I could enjoy a life outdoors and maybe try something new.

One of my favorite alpine peaks

It had always been a desire to climb alpine peaks, and in that same trip we visted Grand Teton National Park. As luck would have it that day was the best weather day we had experienced and in early June the Tetons were glistening in the sunshine thanks to snow cover galore. That sealed it for me, I would find a way to the top and I knew the only way was to learn to rock climb. So shortly upon returning home I made a great and mighty effort to get my hands on books and by way of the internet I did my own research. I began sharing this new found (and rekindled) desire with my wife, and a small spark from my fire lit her tinder.

Bringing Us All Together

Through the wonders of modern technology I began to share documentaries and videos of climbers and climbing destinations with my wife. Luckily for me, she loves foreign travel and I began to extol about the Swiss Alps, Patagonia, and other regions of South America especially. I talked about how we could do this as a family and how we could vacation, spend time together, and be active for relatively inexpensively compared to a typical vacation. I talked about the places we could go and things we could see, about how this would be great for instilling a natural and active lifestyle into our children.

Quality gear leave everyone feeling this way

Slowly she began to open up to the idea. I helped to open her mind even further by bribing her with presents of shiny, soft, and feminine gear that made her and our son’s experiences far more comfortable. This of course helped make the transition much easier. However at this time we had not done anything closely resembling climbing, so the plunge had to be taken, but we thought it best to dip into the kiddie pool. A local outfitter had a section of their store with a small bouldering cave. The ceiling were no more then 8′ high and the floor was padded and absorbed a large amount of force. We worked up a sweat and left with our forearms screaming but a glimmer in our eyes. We spent over an hour together having fun and sweating up a storm. We got a workout…and it didn’t even feel like a workout. There was something to this climbing this and we decided to pursue it further. We signed up for a class at this same outfitter and at a cost of $5 (they gave us a $5 coupon for purchases over $25 after the class was over) it was easy to make the move to being a climbing family.

The Finished Product

Here we are just a  few short months after we started. Now we all climb and are members at the local climbing gym. We’ve all got climbing goals and my son is hooked (literally he throws up heel hooks like they’re going out of style). 2-3 times a week you can find us in the gym getting stronger and having fun. We’re talking about taking climbing focused trips and I’m thinking about competing in the 2013 Extremity Games. We subscribe to several climbing magazines, watch videos, follow athletes and are meeting new climbers on twitter and in the gym. We love the community feel of climbing and the opportunity it affords us to be together, get healthy, get outside, and stay active.

It's like the X-Games for disabled athletes

After encouraging my wife to read a few books the possibility even exists for her to consider taking up some modest alpine climbing in the future. She’s discovered her inner-athlete and we’re all defying our self conceived ideas of what we can and cannot do. My son watches the other climbers and I’m amazed by what he has picked up and how he’s getting stronger and going higher and harder with each passing week.


When I look back on how we got to this point I find a certain number of tipping points that helped us build a climbing family.

#1. It all starts with passion. Starting anything without passion only leads to one giving up because when it calls for your time and sacrifice you find that it’s just not as important if you’re not passionate about it to begin with.

#2. You must gain knowledge.  I researched and read, studying and listened. I saw what it took and what I needed to do, I counted the costs and found a way to test my mettle before I wasted too much time.

#3. It helps to find multiple benefits. We were already a camping family, so adding hiking, and climbing just seemed logical and we could do all of that in one vacation and the gear could be used for multiple vacations making it cheaper in the long term. Add in the physical benefits, getting outside, being active and away from technology carried a lot of weight.

#4. Got to start slow. We slowly immersed ourselves into this new world and now it’s taking center stage. We sought out easy and inexpensive ways to introduce ourselves. Bought used books, read free websites, and rented gear cheap. We started bouldering which meant we only needed shoes and found a inexpensive class we both could attend.

#5. Make everyone comfortable. From gear to expectations ensure to it that everyone is comfortable with the pace and the practice. When all the family members are happy the chances increase of doing it again and again.

So whether it’s rock climbing, kayaking, BASE jumping, slacklining, or any other outdoor recreation you want to try out crafting an outdoor family is worth the time and effort, just be sure to take the right steps.

So until next time…….Climb On!

Our son showing of his rock jockey skills

Categories: Climbing, Insight, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Fresh and Ready for 2012

After a much needed and quite enjoyable break towards the latter few weeks of 2011, we are back and ready to dive in to the new year with some new material. As you can see we have a new name (The Bionic Chronicles) and I’ve been using ‘we’ a lot as well because…..drum roll please…… my wife is going to be joining me through out this year as a contributor! Let the confetti fly and the fanfare begin! She is going to bring a much needed female, mommy, wifey perspective and content to this blog and polish it up a bit.

The break was a nice time away and it certainly allowed for time to plan and forecast for 2012 and what we as a family and I individually want to accomplish. I’ll get into a few of the highlights to this year’s Bionic Family plans, but I wanted to make mention of a few things of noteworthiness.

Over the break we did have the opportunity to do some more climbing indoors at the gym. This personally was an eye-opening experience because it revealed something I didn’t know existed. Self-consciousnesses. Last week I went to the gym with my wife and headed upstairs to the bouldering cave. I was intent on climbing a problem on an overhanging wall. Probably the hardest problem I had tried to date. Since I have nerve damage to my hips and back the core section of my body does not function too well. This makes overhanging climbs a challenge because I have difficulty keeping my hips into the wall. This leaves my tail hanging out, that partnered with gravity helps pull me from the wall. No ankle and calf support makes keeping my toes and feet on hold while reaching up and back nearly impossible. So all of this combined leads me to believe I look ridiculous, and I fall often or pop-off holds and hang in space which does not help with weight distribution off my shoulder and hands. To make a long story short I was not all there mentally, the bouldering cave was crowded and I didn’t want to show off my pathetic lack of climbing skills to what seemed to be the whole climbing community of Minnesota. So I sat for about 5 minutes staring off before unlacing my shoes and quitting. That was s new one for me.

My wife was doing great. She’s really been working hard and experiencing a lot of improvement to technique and endurance. She’s really caught the bug. A new chalkbag to match her shoes and new harness helps too of course (Merry Christmas!) My son also got a new harness, shoes, and a chalk bag for Christmas and now he’s ready to tear it up. The grandparents were quite impressed with his sending feats! (FYI – by ‘sending feats’ I mean 8-12′ up a wall… foot a time!)

2012 Goals and Plans

So there’s the recap of a few mentionables and now on to the good stuff, what is in store for us this year.

100 Miles! – That is our hiking goal for the year. We want to log 100 miles on the trail for the calendar year. It may not seem like much but with our busy schedule and having a 5-year old child (turning 6 in July) 100 miles of hiking is a great goal. We’re hoping to knock out close to one-quarter of that on our summer vacation.

Rocky Mountain High – We’re heading off to Colorado on vacation! Well, we’re planning to head off to Colorado on vacation! We didn’t take a major road trip vacation in 2011 and we haven’t been out West since June of 2010 (Yellowstone and the Black Hills) so we’ve decided to conquer the Front Range. Preliminary planning has us seeing Rocky Mountain National Park, Florissant Fossils National Monument, doing A LOT of hiking, even quite possibly bagging my wife and son’s first 14er (Pikes or Gray and Torreys Peaks are the early front runners). Super ambitious? Of course. Crazy and wild? Absolutely. Done with planning? Not even close.  We may also throw in Great Sand Dunes National Park as well.

If we can’t venture to Colorado, we’ve got a back-up in a South Dakota/North Dakota loop trip with stops at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, The Black Hills, Badlands National Park, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll definitely head up to northern Minnesota or to northern Wisconsin. Or maybe to the local park……hopefully we can venture farther then that.

Winter Sporting  – We’re looking to try skiing this year. My son and wife have never been skiing, and I haven’t been on skis since my accident in 1999. We’re also going to go snowshoeing. I want to convince my wife to go ice climbing…..but she isn’t so happy with that idea. One thing at a time I guess.

More Hidden Treasure – We’re hoping to combine activities and couple the hiking with some more geocaching. I thought that it was great fun and so did my son. My wife wasn’t too pleased when I got us off trail and through the heavy brush to find a small cache….. ADVENTURE! I’m looking to do more this year by adding our own personal GPS to the gear closet (yes… I am behind in the times. If it weren’t for my parents we would still have 1 TV in the house that was bought in 1997. I’m not a electronic fanboy who needs to the top of the line stuff every year. I still use my laptop that I bought 6-7 years ago! I use an abacus too). So if you go geocaching in Minnesota and you find pretty plastic butterflies you’ll know who left them. Why butterflies? you may ask (or maybe you didn’t but you’re going to get educated anyways). We place butterflies in every cache we find in honor of our daughter Gabrielle Renee who died in April 2011 during birth.

Another Fall Trip – This time we’re going to do it right, no forgetting gear! If you don’t know what I’m talking about check out my trip report from our 2011 fall camping trip.

Actual Rock Climbing – We’re looking to actually try climbing on actual real rock….Actually! We have several places here as well as some great places about 5 hours away to throw up a top rope or throw down a crash pad. This goal may get pushed back because we’re looking at getting pregnant (well not me, but my wife…cause that would be very awkward and impossible). So bouldering would be a two person affair and my wife would have to sit out which is never any fun. Given that the gear outfitting for Colorado is nearly one-half of the cost for the entire trip (quality and comfort helps make a trip that much better!) this may have to wait.

We have many more goals which we’ll leak out throughout the year, but in the spirit of brevity (stop giggling) we’ll tackle those later. Look for additional changes this year. I’d like to add some video and much more photos. With my wife on board the quality of the writing and the posts are sure to improve so bear with us!

So until next time…..Adventure On!

Categories: Camping, Climbing, Family Vacation, Geocaching, Hiking, Insight, Outdoor Recreation, Skiing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Argument I Keep Losing

So I am sidelined yet again.

No more climbing for the Bionic Man, at least not for awhile. The tendinitis in my right shoulder is SLOWLY getting better, but I feel tendinitis in my left shoulder starting. I also am experiencing forearm pain that only shows up when I pull…’s got me wondering if I have a micro or stress fracture.

I keep getting into verbal fights with my body, it appears that my body isn’t too fond of me yelling at it and secretly start breaking down on me. My bodies continued debilitation is the direct result of my disability. The two go hand-in-hand and it’s hindering my progress.

I’ve been trying and trying to find a way to overcome this deficiency, but I have yet to determine a suitable answer. I’ve put on an ankle brace which I hoped would help to stabilize my ankle but I’m not sure if it’s just a placebo effect. I also wear a knee brace to protect my left knee because the inside tendons and ligaments seem to be challenging me lately. I tried putting on my right ankle brace (it’s a different style and brand) but it wouldn’t fit inside the shoe. One of the teens climbing stared at me the other day while I was walking around the bouldering area. I think she wondered why I was even there. My calves are non-existent and I wear braces on my left leg. I have no business climbing at all…..but I have no common sense so why should I listen to reason!

I’m going to be taking about a month off of climbing, give my body time to recoop and to work on strengthening my rotator cuff muscles. I still don’t know how to solve my foot problems. If I don’t solve them soon and figure out a way to climb with this disability I’m going to spend 6 months climbing and 6 months doing therapy to recover. I’ll end up climbing every other month and make no progress at all. I’ve thought about maybe getting new shoes however I am wary that it’s just a bunch of hype. I was climbing a problem with my wife tonight and did it barefoot so do climbing shoes really give you so much of an edge? I wear a pair of Evolv K-Lace shoes. They are a beginner shoe made on a flat last. They are supposed to provide decent edging and I certainly like the way they feel. I’ve wondered though if I would be better off with a downturn shoe made for superior edging. I wonder if getting a shoe that purposefully curls my toes and provides good edging support will help my compensate somewhat for my disability?

I don’t know if it will really work, I could go and try out a pair and see if the staff at my climbing gym will let me climb a problem or two in them and see if they do indeed work better. We’ll have to wait and see.

So to the climbing community out there I ask, what are your opinions on climbing shoes? Do you feel and experience a difference between flat and downturn shoes? Would love to hear you weigh in.

Update: A few of my twitter friends weighed in and said that I would definetly see a marked performance. I am slowly leaning the way of a downturn shoe. I’ve now got decision between two pairs. I would still enjoy to hear opinions from my readers. User reviews and insight is always more welcome then company product hype.

Until next time……Climb On!

Categories: Climbing, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

They Call Me Flapper John or I Can’t Read!

So I think I’m going to adopt a new nickname. I’m also thinking of changing my Twitter handle from @TheBionicHiker to @FlapperJohn.

I went climbing at the St. Paul Vertical Endeavors on Saturday night. Took the whole family but since my little guy was on the tail end of fighting influenza he just sat playing his Leapfrog Leapster and was the most well-behaved he’s ever been in a situation like that.

Side note: My son told me that he doesn’t like rock climbing which is why he doesn’t climb too high. Turns out he’s not a fan of roped climbing but he’s was nearly begging us to boulder. I feel the same way at times.

Back to my story . . .  so we had a great family time. We’re not sure about whether we want to get a membership there or keep the fitness membership we already have. We’re doing Pro’s & Con’s; can’t tell you whose leading right now.

To make a long story less long I tore my hands apart. I had a ton of ‘flappers’. If you don’t know what they are, it is when skin is torn from your hand and just flaps in the wind. I tore off calluses and other skin from various parts of my hand. See the picture showing you the ouch zones.

Can You Find the Seven Hidden Flappers in this Picture?

That wasn’t the only problem I had……I really sucked it up tonight. I finished one climb….the whole night. I managed to pull off a 5.7 on an auto-belay and I think I may have only used one foothold that wasn’t marked in the routes color. I was happy because it’s the first route I have ever finished. I tried another and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how it went. So after getting frustrating with not being able to get more then 10′ off the deck I decided to head upstairs to the easy bouldering cave. I say easy because it’s not super overhanging and I needed a confidence boost. I should have looked elsewhere.

I found a nice V0 (easiest problem in bouldering) and I decided to give it a go. I fell, and I fell hard. I hit the back of my head, knocking off my hat, nearly knocked off my glasses, and almost bit through my tongue. So like any sane climber…..I tried it again, and again, and again. I didn’t finish the problem, but I did improve my falling!

My right hand took the worst of it, 4 flappers to 3.

So a climber came over, having felt so much pity on me and showed me how to climb the problem. I got to the part that kept alluding me, but with this new beta I knew I’d finish, until my shoulder began acting up. Yep, it was a one arm hang from a horn with the feet spread out and then a pull up to a 3-finger pocket. My left foot popped and my right shoulder couldn’t take the stress and off I came. I had tried swinging and mini-dynos all night long and coming within 1 finger of sticking the hold. I would leave not being able to finish it.

I tried twice downstairs on a 5.8+ and a 5.6 and couldn’t pull either off. I was gassed, my body was tired and mentally I was shot. My confidence was crushed even though I know it shouldn’t be. I try really hard and I know my technique leaves MUCH to be desired. It’s difficult when you have a bum shoulder, your calves don’t work, you don’t trust your legs, and your knee begins acting up. I know this is only the sixth time I’ve ever climbed and my stamina is really improving, but I hate excuses I hate blaming failure on a disability or being a novice. I really wanted to stick that problem.

I was really struggling to even see how a route/problem went. I’d get going and wonder “Um . . . ok what the heck am I supposed to do now?” I tried my best to stay on the marked tapes to really see where I was at ability wise. Sometimes I just looked at where the movements were supposed to go and I saw nothing. I hope my climbing eyes develop over time.

I did get one great takeaway from this and it was a list of things to improve upon. I think that no matter what failure shouldn’t go by and be left as simply failure. I would encourage everyone to look at everything you face and pull something out of nothing. Never let a hardship, failure, success, or struggle go by without learning something about yourself. Here is what I learned.

1. Be Patient

I kept trying to fly up the routes. I would half jump to holds and leave myself dangling, especially when I know the problem. Going slow saves energy and allows one time to think.

2. Be Even More Patient

I gotta be patient with my progress and allow myself time to develop and to understand that I’ve got some disadvantages that need to be worked through.

3. Understand Why You’re Doing This

Climbing was a form of exercise and a chance to spend time with the family doing something other than watching movies. I’m not a pro and I shouldn’t try to push myself to prove myself either. I need to stop thinking about what other think of how I climb and just enjoy that I can.

4. Use Your Legs More By Trusting in Them More

I don’t trust my legs to hold me or propel me up a problem or route. I don’t use them as much as I should and I need to. They’re not going to get better if I don’t use them and begin to put some trust in them. Even if that means I don’t get up too high I need to develop as a well-rounded climber, and that means using all my body.

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