10 December 2005

Climb On.

Friday morning I was given the all clear by Dr. Christian Royer of Orthopedic Associates of Dallas at the Tom Landry Sports Medicine Clinic at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. My doctor kicks much ass, actually. Always level headed, trusts me to do my body right and never jumps into things too quickly. Nice guy, too.

So, with my freshly wiped slate and a prescription for physical therapy in hand I headed out with plans to visit REI and Stoneworks. I wanted to be back in the wall as soon as possible. I've missed climbing and figured it was the best way for me to use my ankle and speed my recovery.

I wanted to visit REI in hopes of finding a pair of Madrock's ultra-aggressive Loco climbing shoes on sale. They were going for $49.95 on the net (normally $89.95) and I figured they were a steal for such an aggressive climbing shoe. Unfortunately, the largest size available was a 6.5US, which would necessitate the removal of not only my toes, but also my entire heel enable to fit. The shoe is considered aggressive because of the heavy camber from the back of the shoe to the front. The heel cup is shaped to raise your heel and put maximum pressure on your toes, with a high arch emphasizing this approach. The toe itself is pointed to put max power on your big toe, thus creating a show that will find purchase on the smallest of featres regardless of shape and size. Edging is good but the shoe is designed mostly for steep overhangs (sole is cut to fit snugly into angled gaps while haning horizontal to the earth) and wicked boulder problems. My climbing cannot justify the shoe, but for $50 I thought it would be a fun experiment. All of that, of course, is for naught since they didn't have my size.

I still hit Stoneworks for an afternoon of bouldering to work on my ankle and hang out with the climbing crowd. It proved to be a great day for indoor climbing (26 degrees outside) and I had a blast, even though we had to go outside to warm up. Concrete has a great memory for the weather. If it is freezing for a day or two, the concrete gets wicked cold and stays cold for a long time. As such, we could see our breath inside the building and spent a lot of time gripping ice cubes, blowing on our fingers and wishing we had just one more layer of clothing to fight the depths of cold creeping from the building.

Mark was on staff Friday and the only other climbers were a couple of guys from REI that I'd seen before, but had not formally met. We had a nice time and I took it easy, just bouldering around the silos and trying to work on my mobility.

Today, Saturday, I went back to Stoneworks for another afternoon of climbing. Beforehand I stopped at Mountain Hideout to look at and try on more shoes. They carry a good selection of La Sportiva's, of which I really like the Katana shoes for their aggressive heel cup and velcro closure. The laces on my current Phoenix shoes are nice for snugging the fit, but with tired fingers after a long climb or cold stubbs during winter, they are not easy to put on and take off. I also bought them a little too small and my feet start to ache after bouldering only a third of the full route, and sometimes sooner depending on the size of the foot holds. Part of that is a general lack of strength in my feet, but also the actual shoe sizing. They are supposed to be tight, but if your feet hurt, you can't climb anyway.

I spent another few hours at the gym climbing and now I'm freaking sore. Shoulders, back, abs, ankles, legs, arms... I'm spent. And, of course, I love it. I feel awesome. Racked with pain and aching to crawl in bed is such a wonderful feeling! I also got to chat with Mark, Blake and Ryan all of whom are employees at Stoneworks. Mark is a cool guy that I enjoy talking with because he's laidback, as is everyone that is into climbing, it seems. Everyone is just cool. I have yet to meet anyone that is a dick or an ass at the crag. I don't know what it is, but they all seem like nice people just out to enjoy themselves and do a body good. Ryan is interesting because he's my body type but more built and cut. He climbs all the time, of course and never worksout with weights, but his physique is incredible. We talked some before I left for the day and he was really taughting Joga as a means of building back my ankle strength. He seemed knowledable about what it does for your body and it was great to hear things from a new perspective that doesn't involve doing the usual shit at 24 Hour Fitness.

One of the best parts of all this is that I have a three month membership ($140) that allows me to go climb whenver I want. The membership pays for itself in 10 visits and I plan on going at least twice a week for the next three months, maybe even more! It all boils down to great value, a fantastic workout and a lot of fun!

The best part of it all is that my girl Friday went climbing last week and got hooked. She's stoked about it and has told me several times that she wants to get shoes and a harness so she can go climbing more often. I'm all for it, have encouraged her to go with me when she's back in town and would be thrilled if we can start climbing together regularly, because I need a belay partner. Couple this with a phone call from her this morning (right after I'd rolled out of bed, she's good at that) from Florida where she's on business, and I'm left to read into the situation a little. I can't tell what's going on, actually. I had not expected to hear from her at all until she was due back in town and finished with her exam, so it was another very pleasant surprised. It was a brief conversation, but a welcome one. I enjoy talking to her and she's told me same, it just makes the state of things a little more difficult to accept. Such is life, however, and I'll just have to let things play out to see what happens.

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