The New Guy
My friend Matt has shown interest in climbing for the last few months. Every few weeks he emails me inquiring about the rock gym and maybe joining me one night to climb. However, our schedules have not seemed to coordinate well. I do the majority of my gym climbing in the morning to avoid the crowds and the distraction and frustration that comes with them. I prefer when the rock gym is quiet and I can jump on any climb without waiting for people to clear out of the way. I also do not get blasted with suggestions and beta from other climbers (which I hate). While climbing in the morning is great for me, it does not always work out well for people who would like to climb with me (just ask my girlfriend).
The other stumbling block Matt and I have faced is that this past fall has been stellar for climbing. The temperatures have remained perfect, cold enough for good friction and warm enough that you do not mind being outside all day. Many times Matt has wanted to climb I have found myself either too tired from the day before or saving myself for a trip outside the next day.
Matt text messaged me Saturday night inquiring of my interest in going to the gym on Sunday. I had previously arranged to meet some friends at Lincoln Woods Sunday morning (I also had no interest in joining the birthday party nightmare the rock gym becomes on weekends), but feeling bad about not being available I invited Matt to tag along. Knowing that Matt is a natural athlete and a super competitive person I was curious as to how he would survive a day bouldering. I also think it is a good plan to be constantly cultivating new climbing partners (you can never have too many people to climb with).
We chose to start at the Dam Boulder. The Dam boulder is sheltered from the wind and holds heat into the strange pocket of the Woods it is located in. The Dam boulder also holds a ton of moderate straight up problems and even a moderate traverse, so it seemed the perfect place to bring Matt and let him get a feel for the rock. The Dam Boulder was warm and we quickly found ourselves stripping off puffy coats and fleece as we got moving. Matt almost immediately commented on the rough texture of the rock and how much more abrasive it was than the manufactured holds found at the rock gym. I warned him to pace himself as he was at much greater risk of the skin on his hands giving out before his strength.
We climbed at the Dam for a while with Matt sending a few of the straight ups and making progress on the traverse. With his confidence built up we moved to the Alcove. The Alcove is a fun spot located off the beaten path of Lincoln Woods. It possesses a few fun crack problems and a very fun sloper traverse. We hoped to give Matt an opportunity to see a few different types of climbing styles and different type of rock.
On his first attempt at the Alcove, Matt, after grabbing a pocket, commented that it felt as if he had put his hand in a hornets nest. Matt had obviously not heeded my warning. The adrenaline and enthusiasm of climbing at the Dam had ended Matt’s day and Matt learned a valuable lesson: Lincoln Woods rock is sharp, and climbing it destroys your hands.
Our group climbed for a while at the Alcove, then headed toward the Ship’s Prow boulder and the cars. Despite the Ship’s Prow containing some amazing moderate climbs, Matt did not muster up and try them, wisely saving himself for another day. Our group unsuccessfully worked for time at the traverse. I think it was good for Matt to see the group frustrated and failing on something. It is another great climbing lesson to learn: no matter how well you climb, how long you climb, or who you climb with, there will always be another challenge.