You should try The Rock Oasis Inc.!
My friend Mary – who I met through my internship at Connexions & Sources where I am now in charge of all social media, and online networking – is an avid Rock climber. I’ve heard such great things about her experiences and love for this outdoor recreational sport that I asked her if I could tag along. Wisely she suggested that I take an introductory course to start, and so while she away in Vancouver I was given proposed the challenge of actually seeing if I like rock climbing, and receiving a 101 Rock Climber’s lesson at The Rock Oasis Inc. in downtown Toronto.
Luckily Christina, and Sunhee were more than willing to go on this adventure with me. Sunhee and I decided to make our way down there together, and so because she is here from Korea and I’m the so-called “veteran” of the city I took the reins on directing us. I shouldn’t have. Everything was going well until we hoped on the street car. I assumed we needed to get off at Gerrard street east from the looks of the google maps directions I had printed out earlier. So off the 604 and on Gerrard Street East without a transfer we were a little bit lost. It slipped my mind that I may need a transfer at all. Not to self you should always take one. I asked a pedestrian if she knew where Carlaw was, and unfortunately she smelled like a combo of booze and cigarettes. From a mile away she looked sober, and yet this wasn’t the case. None the less she led us in the right direction, and as we started walking I decided it’d be a good idea to double-check on my Iphone. To our surprise the Rock Oasis was 30 mins away. The sun was shining, and there was a beautiful breeze. Sunhee and I thought this would be the perfect warm up for our climb.
Christina was patiently awaiting our arrival inside, and so we immediately went to the front desk to tell them we were ready for our appointment, and introductory lesson. Christina and I had both assumed that we’d be taught the technique to climbing, but that was not the case.
What we learned:
1. Shoe size: I was mistaken, and thought I was definitely a size 7 in running shoe size. This is incorrect. I am an 8.
2. How to assemble ourselves: We learned how to put on all the gear, and attach ourselves safely – correctly – to the ropes.
3. How to REALLY trust your friends: When someone is climbing there is always someone else at the bottom the entire time, and feeding the rope through a mechanism – I don’t remember the name of – in order to ensure your safety if you fall. There is a technique to this, which we learned and the person at the bottom is in charge of the speed, and how you repel down.
4. Heights: Most people know going into this if they have a fear of heights. I thought I didn’t, but a resonating fear began to set in once I was nearing the top of the faux rock. I now know that I am a little fearful, and it was difficult for me to relax and SIT so that whoever was belaying me could bring me down. Maybe it was first climb jitters?
5. Climbing: As Daniel – our instructor – said it is more about your legs and less about your arms. You aren’t really supposed to pull yourself up, but push with the strength of your legs… at least I think that’s what he meant.
Daniel wasn’t as friendly as I had envisioned him to be, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he mistook us for teenagers since that is the norm reaction towards us. I can most definitely speak for myself when I say I look younger than my age. It isn’t as though we were goofing off, but we were trying to enjoy the experience and have fun together. We listened carefully and intently to everything he had to tell us and teach us. We were the perfect little pupil’s until it came to the actual climb, when we all got a little nervous. Regardless, there was no introduction. I get it – everyone has bad days at work – but he didn’t introduce himself, or ask who we were. He most definitely sped through most of the lesson until it was our turn to do it ourselves, and then he was very helpful. He was a bit down. He did have a headache, which we found out afterwards, but this place isn’t air-conditioned so I suggested he should stay hydrated. Then I asked him where he was from since I couldn’t recognize his accent. He said Columbia but seemed to hate that I asked him, and so I apologized and said I was just curious… eek! I didn’t mean to step on his toes.
Once we had learned everything there was to know we were left alone. Daniel headed towards the front desk – still in view of us – and this made us feel weird. It was like our father had left us for the first time at the playground where other kids were running wild. We definitely didn’t know what to do with ourselves and knew we wanted to try different wall scenarios. It was a little awkward, and intimidating because there were people scaling the walls all around us at a quick pace. We stayed for a couple more climbs each and decided to head out since it was getting late. Daniel was a bit disappointed, “that’s all?” Clearly we hadn’t impressed him very much… oh well.
The best part of this adventure is that it only cost $35.00 plus tax! So for under $40.00 you can learn the basics of what you need to know as a rock climber, and after your 1.5 – 2 hr lesson you are free to roam around the building to test out your new skills! I can’t say that I’m prepared to do this in the outdoors – I’m definitely not – but as Mary said it best, “I just need you to belay” which I now have the skill set to do! Yay me!