feel good, do good
My friend Jonathan, the climbing addict, is in town. He thought it would be fun to head down to Malibu Creek State Park and do a little rock climbing. He brought all his ropes and a couple bags full of clips and rings so we had everything we needed. Jonathan usually likes to research his climbs ahead of time but this time was just a quick jaunt so other than where to park, we didn’t know where to find the climbing spots. (By the way, all these thumbnails will get you to a large version of the file, for those of you who don’t look for links)
As it turned out, I ran into a friend from the 909 along the trail and luckily he knew where the spots were. After begging to go see where they filmed M.A.S.H. (and being summarily dismissed), we got a glimpse of the climbing area. It was across a river and pond and back a bit. We climbed up a series of boulders to see how to get there. There didn’t seem to be a way over from where we were but we did see some logs across a narrow part of the river. Jonathan guessed we’d have to go up and over a very tall and narrow hill or find some route near the water’s edge.I looked up at the top, some ten stories up, and saw a path in the rocks that went at least half way up. While Jonathan looked at the water line, I started scrambling up the cliff. I’m not sure if it was a cliff or a hill or a small mountain. But it was roughly a 50 degree angle and went pretty high up. By the time Jonathan noticed I was gone, I was about a quarter of the way up. He put on his back pack and followed me up. Now he’s an experienced mountaineer, wearing what are called “approach shoes”. I have very little experience and I’m wearing sneakers. He passed me half way up and I followed his route but at a slower pace. By this time were both sweating and the shirts have come off, even under the overcast sky.
We get to within 40 feet of the top and realize there’s no way to get over to the other side. Jonathan is walking along the top which is a literal ridge where the two sides come together in a point. I’m still 40 feet down looking at the lack of rock and all the grass. M feet are sweating a little as I imagine every possible misstep or slight shifting in the grass and me sliding all the way to the bottom, hitting every ledge and rock on the way down with my head. Jonathan says if I’m not coming up, he’s going to head down so we still have time to go climbing. If I haven’t said this before, I’ll say it again… I hate reverse psychology, especially when it works on me. I scoot sideways to where I saw Jonathan climb up and make it to the top. Rather than walk on the edge, I straddle the hill like a horse and peer over the edge. While our side was climbable, the other side went straight down but it’s still an incredible view. Check out how small the bridge looks at the far end of the river. Two cars can cross that bridge side by side.
We scramble our way down and Jonathan slips and cuts his hand open on a rock. He of course ignores the cut and we head to the water’s edge. He’s seen some boys climb around the corner so we follow. What I’m talking about are some boulders pushed up against the stone cliff. The boulders are worn smooth from people climbing on them and there’s nothing above you but rock and water below you. Normally this wouldn’t bother me but I have my phone, wallet and camera in my pockets. The way to the climbing area turns out to go about ten yards passed where the boys were climbing including a V in the clif where you’ve got to let go of one side before you can grab on to the other side. This is where I got stuck. I was fine crossing, strength was making up for agility and experience. But at the V, my foot slipped, hit the water and lost all traction on that foot. I couldn’t get across until Jonathan made a step for me with his feet. I really wasn’t happy with that crossing.
We got over to the climbing area, and with a refresher course, I stayed at the bottom on belay while Jonathan climbed up to the anchor some seven stories up. The wall had all kinds of holes to grab onto and looked pretty fun. He was back down fairly quickly and said it was my turn. I said no and he handed me the climbing shoes. Wordlessly, I put them on and strapped in and started climbing. Amazingly, good equipment makes all the difference in the world. With the addition of the surety of the rope, I was up to the top with only one pause to look for a hand hold and then a quick, and confident I might add, rappel down.So here’s the whole point of the post… when we got back to the sideways traverse to go home, I negotiated it like I’d been doing it for years. Just a quick crossing and we were to the other side. Same me, same shoes, same abilities… but my time climbing on the rope made me a lot more confident of grip and hold and jumping.
That second time on the traverse, I knew I could do it and I didn’t give much thought to what I was doing so much as where I wanted to go. Not a bad lesson to learn.