Thursday, May 07, 2009

Climbing, dancing, and parkour.

Australia first introduced me to rock-climbing on the outdoor cliffs of Kangaroo Point, overlooking the Brisbane River. The view: sparkling city lights, rock and rope and climbers illuminated by the giant spotlights at the base of the cliffs.

There is no substitute for real rock under the fingers, but back here in Illinois, I've been frequenting the Vertical Endeavors climbing gym since the beginning of the year.

Indoor climbing has its merits. The routes are graded, so you know exactly the difficulty of the climbs, and can mark your own improvement. Climbs range from grades of 5.5-5.13 at the gym, going from easiest to nearly impossible. I could only do 5.7s and 5.8s in my first indoor climbing session, but last night I made it up a 5.10a and almost up a 5.10b. For months, it seemed like I had a hit a plateau of 5.9s, but I'm encouraged by yesterday's effort that harder climbs are still in my reach.

I liken rock-climbing to dancing and also to the art of parkour. They all assume a base of solid physical ability, but are executed with a superior sense of balance and agility. Experienced climbers, dancers, and traceurs are beautiful to watch, in that they manage to project an elegance in movement that masks the actual difficulty of the undertaking. That tension between strength and grace is something that I admire and aspire to.

After attempting a difficult climb yesterday (and failing), I sat back to watch another climber attempt it. She floated so lightly up that all I could think about was how much she looked like she was dancing.

1 comment:

justinnhli said...

When I read the title of your post I was really hoping that you were learning parkour, because I would totally join you for that.