“This guy’s frustrating me. Let’s do something fun.”
“Wanna go rock climbing?” suggested my best friend and roll dog, Brianna.
And so off we went to Boulderz Climbing Centre on Dupont, a short bus ride away from St. George station. When we got there we were greeted by enthusiastic climbers scaling the walls, the smell of feet, and a upbeat girl at the front desk named Ann who promptly directed us to fill out waivers essentially saying that should we maim ourselves at Boulderz it was on us.
“Have you guys ever been rock climbing before?” she asked.
We both shook our heads. “There’s gonna be some sort of tutorial, right?” I asked nervously, staring at one of the climbers who had just dropped to the padded ground.
“Yup! I’ll give you a beginner’s lesson once I get you guys some shoes.”
I was already starting to feel clingy. Ann would be the person that ensured we didn’t die. “Can I leave my phone with you?”
Once we squeezed into our rented shoes, Ann took us over to the beginner’s section where she pointed out the coloured markers that indicated the difficulty level of each rock. Bright yellow, which marked the easiest routes, would be our guide. Brianna and I warily eyed the tiny rocks labelled to show that they were for experienced climbers. The tutorial involved a quick demonstration of how to shift our hands and feet, and a warning to look out for experienced climbers coming down over the wall.
After she sent us off to hopefully not break our necks, I realized I’d left my phone on and asked Ann if I could quickly turn it off, so it didn’t disturb the front desk. She looked at me, deadpan, and said:
“Because you get a lot of calls, huh? So popular.”
We tentatively climbed three inches at different spots of the gym threading through obvious regulars climbing up and down, side to side – every which way that we wouldn’t be able to copy anytime soon. The “rocks” were extremely challenging to hold onto, even with the bag of chalk, and we were making more calluses than progress.
On the second level we found a kids area that did wonders for our ego. Perhaps a little too much for our egos because we ambitiously went back downstairs to tackle the difficult wall that had already daunted us, realized we were still in no position to overcome those, and slinked back to the kids section. As Ann warned, a climber who had managed to scale the wall from the level below leaped over Tarzan-style to where I was standing, effectively scaring the life out of me. Later, my eleven year old brother would tell me that this is how you flirt in rock climbing.
It was fun, but we had basically paid to be intimidated by a bunch of colourful walls. We would need to do what everyone in the twenty-first century does to justify a paid experience: before leaving we needed to post something on social media. I went to get my phone from the front desk, but since Ann was busy with a customer I had to ask someone else.
“Hi,” I said to the guy behind the counter. “I’d just like to grab my phone. I left it behind the counter. If you want to check, I spoke with Ann…”
He handed me my phone. “I was here when you gave it to her. Miss. Popular, right?”
I was never gonna live it down.
Featured image from Boulderz