Reaching new heights – rock climbing

One of the many climbing walls

One of the many climbing walls

Last Monday it was Memorial Day here in the good old US of A and to do something fun my friend Jessica and I decided to try out Mission Cliffs here in Sam Francisco.

For those of you that don’t know, Mission Cliffs is an indoor rock climbing center. It also has a small gym and group classes, like yoga, but we didn’t try them out.

They offer an intro to rock climbing class that costs $30 and includes all equipment (harness, shoes, and belay device), an hour long lesson and a full day’s access to the facilities. We decided to sign up for the morning class, that way we could climb until lunchtime and decide from there what we would do for the remainder of the day.

There were 7 of us in the class, 3 couples and a lone guy called Chris. The instructor was also called Chris. He started by showing us how to put the harness on correctly and then to attach it to the belay rope. There is a five point check to make sure that you have done it correctly.

  1. The harness is fastened correctly – check the buckle and the leg straps
  2. The belay rope goes through two points of contact
  3. The figure of 8 knot is at most 6 inches from the harness
  4. The figure of 8 knot has 5 pairs of parallel lines
  5. The tail is at least 6-10 inches long (can be tied off with a stopper knot)

Once we had set up our harnesses he got us to take them apart and set them up again. Having each of us demonstrate how to put it together.

Next it was time to learn how to set the harness up for belaying. This also had a five point check.

  1. The harness is fastened correctly – check the buckle and the leg straps
  2. The rope goes through the belay device with the tail waterfalling.
  3. The delay device and the rope and attached to the harness via a carabiner
  4. The carabiner is locked
  5. The slack is taken in

Once we had learned how to set it up instructor Chris demonstrated how to belay and how to lower the climber down. It is important to note that the hand that is pulling the tail must never leave contact with the rope.

We had a few climbs on the beginner wall before moving downstairs to the more advanced walls.


Me belaying the instructor

Me belaying the instructor

The beginner walls are labeled as such 5.6, 5.7, 5.8,up to 5.9. The 5 signifies that the course requires a rope and the number after the decimal point the level of difficulty. Jessica and I teamed up with student Chris and started on the 5.6. It was a lot of fun, climbing up the walls. We spent a good 2 hours climbing before we decided to attempt an intermediate climb.

The 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, and 5.9

The 5.6 (orange), 5.7 (green), 5.8 (blue), and 5.9 (pink)

These climbs are numbered 5.10a, 5.10b, etc. the letter after signifies an increase in difficulty between the level 10 climbs.

Unfortunately we’d tired ourselves out but we did climb up the majority of the 5.10a.

Attempting the 5.10a

Attempting the 5.10a

It was a fun day and I would love to go back. Hopefully it is a sport that I may be able to take up in the future.

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