getting high on crack…climbing, that is
Today was pretty sweet. I got to go climbing in Mexico City. Wait, in the city, you ask? What like a gym, or up some stairs? Nope. Try el Parque Nacional de los Dinamos. Check this place out. It’s beautiful, and it’s within MC city limits. Kinda blows me away.
Woke up early and got picked up by some buddies I’ve met at the climbing gyms here. Then we met up with a few other climbers and a couple cool guides and drove to the park. After getting all the gear together, we had about a 20 min hike up to the climbing site, which was pretty rough and steep. Plus one of the guys told me that it’s pretty common to see snakes (rattlesnakes) on the path, which made me feel really good. I don’t have many fears, but snakes are a recurring theme whenever I have nightmares (and, no, I never saw Snakes on a Plane heh). Fortunately we made it to the crag without seeing any of these sinister creatures, but more on that later.
Here are some pics of the climbing site. Pretty nice crag with tons of routes. The cool thing for me is that this is a totally new style of climbing for me–crack climbing. Basically there’s a crack in the wall and you climb up it…pretty complicated, eh? Actually, yeah it is pretty complicated and pretty hard. Basically it involves sticking your feet and your hands in the crack, rotating them to maintain contact with the rock, and then pulling with your arms/hands and pushing down with your feet. It’s quite painful actually. However, the advantage of crack climbing is that it destroys the dorsal side of your hand rather than the palmar side of your hand that the other styles of climbing destroy (sounds like a fun sport, huh?). People tried explaining the technique to me numerous times, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense until i got my feet wet and hands dirty (yes literally, and both). I did about 6 routes of varying difficulty, and it was really cool. Crack climbing is totally new to me, so it was fun to try to figure out how to do it. I felt like I started to get the hang of it, but there was one route that I couldn’t figure out. I’ve got a long ways to go.
The thing about climbing on real rock is that it can totally freak you out. There’s a lot of technical stuff involving ropes and knots, and if you screw it up, well, things don’t really go very well. That’s why I’m with guides cuz I don’t really know anything about climbing outdoors (yet) nor do I have the equipment. The thing about climbing is there are many styles and many levels. Basically what I’m doing is top-roping. There’s a rope connected to anchors at the top of the route. I’m connected to one end, and my belayer is connected to the other end so that if (or when?) I fall the line is taught and I don’t fall and bash my head on a rock and die. But…how do you get the rope up to the anchor at the top in the first place? Well that’s where the real climbing comes in (unless, of course, you can just hike up to the anchor some other way). Lead climbing is when you climb up the route placing gear along the way. You still have a belayer keeping the line tight, but if you fall you fall then you fall the height of the last piece of protection you placed in the rock times two (double since the length of rope connected to you above the protection connected to you is now an equal distance below the protection). And that’s if the gear you place in the wall holds when you fall (sometimes it doesn’t). Well, this sounds very exciting and pretty terrifying if you think about the consequences, especially when you see the type of gear that you place in the wall to hold you.
There are different styles of lead climbing. One is sport climbing where there are bolts along the route and you clip your rope into caribiners attached to the bolts as you ascend. Then there’s trad climbing where there are no bolts and you have to place different pieces of gear in the rock as you go up. To me this seems really sketchy, and it is (at times). I’m very far from that level, but it was cool to see how it’s done IRL (in real life, and i hope nobody actually knew what that acronym means btw).
Oh yeah and this might have been one of the most spectacular days in Mexico City. The air was crystal clear (amazing!) and the views of the city were phenomenal. Especially from the top of the climb, but sadly i didn’t have my camera at the top (argghh..that’s why i have an indestructible camera..idiot). But you’ll have to settle for the views from the base of the crag, which are pretty sweet as well.
Back to the snake thing…so I was walking a bit farther up the path to take those fantastic photos, and i heard something. Looked down and, great, a snake. Totally made my day (not, ugh). Tried to snap a photo but only got part of it. I really dislike these sinister creatures, and later when I went to go take a piss by a tree it really made me very happy that I’m a guy :-)
So I was pretty psyched about the climbing and the great views. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as lucky yesterday when I went hiking at the volcano Iztaccihuatl an hour or two from the city with my friend Oscar. There are two amazing volcanoes not that far from MC, but unfortunately this is the rainy season and it’s not safe to climb to the summit at this time. I figured they’d still be cool to check out and do some hiking. It was a good hike with nice scenery and rugged terrain, but the clouds weren’t in our favor for good views unfortunately. I guess I can’t have it all.