First I did a 5.5 difficulty (basically a beginner climb, I guess, the first requiring gear to climb), which was fun and confidence-building. Zoom, back down I went with Kij supporting my weight in case I slipped. Then I did a 5.6 (a step up in difficulty), which turned out to be much more difficult in that it was missing some holds (little nooks and bolted-on nubs): At one point about 25 feet up, I had to sort of spring using my left leg as I jumped for the holds above. It helps to be tall when climbing, I guess. Then I did another 5.6 that I made harder for myself by not seeing some holds around a corner, instead reaching to the limits of my ability starting half-way up. Whew, that wore me out.
Then we went to the bouldering area. Bouldering seems to be climbing but without ropes and not so high (at least in the gym). She started me out with a baby route rated at V.b (b for beginner; they use Vs instead of 5s for some reason), which was simple and fun. Then I did two V.0s - the first real rating - which was neat. These only go up about 10 feet, so you can fall without too much fear onto the loose, deep pea gravel below. Then I did a V.1, and two V.2s - the last one being a serious challenge due to having to kind of launch myself from a quarter-sized foot-hold beyond my reach to the next hand-holds, then hang upside down at the very top and have to decide whether to just drop or continue exerting on the way down. Mind you, by now my forearms and legs were so pumped up that they felt like stone beneath the skin, and the muscles were as tired as I can ever remember their being; there's something about clinging to teensy hand- and foot-holds for dear life while trying to gain higher purchase that really puts the body into a survival mode where it easily goes beyond mere fatigue.
Anyhow, after a bit of a breather watching Kij do some bouldering - she's a strong and graceful climber - I did two last climbs using the rope on a more advanced wall. There I did a vertical 5.6 and my first 5.7 - I guess a 5.7 is the first starting measure beyond the baby ratings, and it showed: This one required launching and clinging to teeny fingertip holds and clamping down on things between my fingers and holding my weight on those and gripping the corner of a wall and matching hands to feet to move up and so on... it was tons of work and great fun. By the time I reached the top, my muscles had turned to concrete and could no longer work well, so I sort of lowered myself as Kij took most of my weight.
All in all, a great way to exercise! There's a climbing wall in the gym just down the street from my house, and I'm thinking that would be fun. Hey, tmseay and amjhawk, I bet you guys would enjoy it! And it's free for students, no?
Oh, and earlier today I visited the upstairs area of Captain's Nautical Supply (they're online, I'm sure, but my fingers are too tired to do a search), a telescope dealer where you can get the beautiful Harbormaster brass telescope. The former editor of the Telescope Maker's Journal works there, and he now edits an annual "best of" anthology - fun meeting and talking to him!
So: A good trip so far. The flight here was smooth and sunny, and I got all my grading done en route. Tomorrow: Much goofing off with friends, probably a visit to the Science Fiction Museum, and boozing things up. Sunday: Probably a trip to the Robothon and more goofing off with friends. Monday: Coming home, going to class, and crashing around midnight is my guess. And getting to pet my sweet little tatsuko_shikibu!
I hope y'all're well.