I took 8 months off of climbing. A few weeks ago, I started again.
My now uncalloused hands and my skinny arms make me grimace.
Re-entering any sport is painful after a decent hiatus.
- Running: where my thighs accepted each step with taut resistance, I feel a gentle jiggle.
- Swimming: where steady breathing carried me from stroke to stroke, I instead gulp for air and find an awkward “make do” rhythm.
- Biking: where hills once beckoned me for an aerobic reward, breathless but satisfied; they’re now mammoth challengers mocking each crank forward.
I have left and returned to each of those sports throughout my life. I expected the trials of regaining a particular kind of strength.
This is the first time I’m “re-entering” climbing. I edged into 5.11 territory just before this eight-month break.
Climbing routes are rated as such: 5.7/8 is novice, 5.9/10 is intermediate, 5.11/12+ is generally expert.
Now, I struggle up slopey 5.9s and routinely fall off 5.10s
(…while desperately continuing, three holds at a time, just to prove I can make it to the top. Pathetically, it would not be happening if I was leading instead of top-roping).
This scoring is fairly subjective: different body-types and routes push people in different ways. But it helps gauge my level.
And in this case, the ratings remind me there’s catching-up to do.
And I try to remember – I want this – when my thin skin aches/bleeds and my muscles complain after a solid afternoon workout.