Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rock climbing, the good, the great and the stupid.

Rock climbing makes me incredibly happy, if you can't stand to read about rock climbing you might want to skip this post all together though there are some non rock climbing anecdotes mixed in.

Last weekend I had the time of my life at a mountain whose name I can't pronounce 5 hours south of Seoul. I was the only foreigner with 6 other Koreans with only a couple having any sort of grasp of the English language. I learned lots of climbing related Korean though. Some of it is even applicable to normal life--like left and right. I was really nervous about going camping for the first time in years in a foreign country with a bunch of people I don't know. If I didn't have friends here help me get ready and lend me things like spare bits of twine and compasses I might have chickened out. In any case, I didn't back out and Friday night I turned up at the rock climbing club with my pack, ready to go. We arrived around 1:30 in the morning and then they started cooking! I was ready to pass out but etiquette dictated I wait around and chat for a bit. However, when I started dozing off at the dinner circle they were like 'it's ok, you can go to bed.'
Let me explain about the 'camping.' There was a 10 person, 2 room tent. We hiked a grand total of 20 seconds from the car to the site. At the site was a bathroom, no hot water but flushing toilets and reasonably clean. This isn't what I call camping but hey, who am I to complain? In any case, I didn't have to worry about over-packing since I wasn't exactly hauling my pack anywhere.

Saturday we got moving a bit slowly but managed to get to the climbing area around noon, just a couple kilometers to hike in. Around the halfway point of the hike there was an ancient Buddhist temple that is still in use. It was incredibly beautiful. No one seemed to think it was incredible that we just got to pass by this ancient temple but apparently it isn't that out of the ordinary in Korea.

Climbing was good, even though it was a little scary to learn a whole new life saving belay vocabulary. I spent most of the weekend working a 5.10b though I did try a 5.11a (only got 1/3 of the way up.) There was another girl who was about at my level but the rest of the crew was climbing 5.12s and 5.13s. The next level closest to us was comfortable with 5.11s. A little intimidating but everyone was really down to earth and friendly.

Sunday morning we got up early to go to a traditional Korean bath house. It was the best thing ever. Imagine waking up a little cold and completely sore from a hard day of climbing and then getting to go to a sauna and soak in hot pools of water. Great for the muscles and a good morale booster. Not to mention it only cost 3,000 won. (less than $3.00)

In the entire weekend I didn't hurt myself, aside from a few bruises. However, Thursday night I decided to try out a new rock climbing gym closer to my house. I was doing a fun bouldering problem and one of the moves was on the ceiling so that I was parallel to the floor. I lost my footing, my hands slipped and I fell. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem only I missed the crash pad and landed on the concrete floor. Luckily I landed on my feet but I was high enough up that the impact shoved my feet back into my ankles and really hurt. At the time I shrugged it off, stretched my ankles a little and got back to climbing. A few hours later on my way to meet up with some people I realized I was in serious pain. The next morning when I got out of bed I realized I was just a little screwed since it hurt to walk and I teach 6 year olds. Long story short: they had to get one of the Korean teachers to cover my classes in the morning so that my boss could take me to get health insurance so I could go to the doctor. As I suspected, I didn't break or tear anything (no swelling/bruising) but they took x-rays to make sure there were no hair line fractures or unnatural separation between the bones. I just badly strained both of my ankles. Nothing the specialist could do but prescribe extra strength tylenol and recommend ice for the next few days. Apparently I'm very lucky since if I'd landed on my heels instead of the balls of my feet I would have ruptured my achilles tendon. Or so he says. I'm also not allowed to do any real phsyical activity besides light walking for the next 3 weeks and absolutely No rock climbing for the next 3 weeks. As reasonable as that is, especially since walking is difficult at the moment, I'm completely bummed. What am I supposed to do if I can't go rock climbing?? I suppose I could read more and learn Korean but I need a physical outlet for my energy. It's only 3 weeks, suck it up and deal is what the rational part of me says but it's just frustrating. Rock climbing is also really social and otherwise I mainly meet up with people to eat or drink or both. I need a new hobby for the next 3 weeks. Any suggestions?

Also, I tried to load pictures just now but the internet hates me. I'll try from a PC bang tomorrow...


Josh said...

sounds like it might be time to take up knitting there short stack ;-p

wishing a speedy recovery!!!! You better listen to the doctors......

I hope that I can catch up with you on skype one of these days.....

Chris said...

Heh heh I could see the climbing squee from all the way over here. So glad your leg injury wasn't something worse.

p.s. That korean bath house, was it like a hot spring? Always wanted to go to one of those meself.