Taking It Outdoors

rock climbing riverside quarry

There comes a time in every newbie rock climber’s life when you decide to take what you’ve learned and go outside.

Well, the time came this past weekend.

A couple of my LA friends got invited to an outdoor excursion to the Riverside Rock Quarry in Rubidoux, CA and I got to tag along. We took the “Stairway to Heaven” up 100+ feet to get to the base of the climbing section. I was nervous and excited as I watched a regular climb a route that was supposedly one of the easiest in the area. He was stuck at the crux for 20 minutes before he powered through the last 20 feet of the route.

When he came down, he gave me a couple tips as I got ready to tie into the rope. It was exhilarating breathing in the fresh air as I wrapped my hands around the first hand hold. I looked for the white chalk markings to help me figure a way up as there are no bright neon holds like the rock gym. I struggled at first to find my own footholds and foot chips as I slowly made my ascent.

As I neared the crux, my line started pulling me in the opposite direction of where I needed to go and I swing wildly off course. It took about 20 minutes of pushing, swinging, and struggling before I made it past the crux. I could have picked up few quickdraws at the bottom and start over but I was so close to the top, I didn’t want to go down now! After passing the strength-intensive crux, the last 20 feet had a nice crack where I could slip my fingers in for an easy end to a challenging climb.

At the bottom, my belayer and a couple others nearby cheered when I finished my climb and they were pretty impressed that I made it up as my first time going outdoors. It was rated as a 5.9/5.10a…but for me, it felt a lot more challenging because I didn’t have the quickdraws and I didn’t have the initial strength to make it through the crux cleanly.

I was truly humbled that day.

When I climb at Planet Granite, a 5.9/5.10a is easy peasy…those are my warmup climbs. Obviously, PG routes skew a little generously giving a false sense of expertise where I clearly have none. I’d say I’d have to be pretty proficient at the harder 5.11 climbs to even begin to tackle outdoor routes. It’s a whole different game out there and maybe I just have to climb outdoors more to understand how it works. Come warmer weather, I’m definitely gonna be outdoors.

You can bet on it!


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