It was the big climbing trip today.
I took the 45 minute subway ride over to Ace Climbing Center for a 9:00 AM meeting time. We packed up our gear in the back of the gym's Hyundai mini-van, and then crammed seven adults in and set out on a 2-hour drive to the climbing crag.
It was the first time anyone from the gym had been to our intended destination, so we had to stop at a restaurant and ask for directions when we neared what the SatNav said was the end of the journey (I hate Sat Nav, but that's another post for another time). It's tough to tell its height from the picture, but the restaurant had this really cute puppy that couldn't have been more than eight inches tall.
Eventually we found the road-side turn out and set off on a hike to find the climbing site.
After one hour, we finally reached base camp and unpacked our gear.
Alvin and his wife and I were going to start warming up on some nice looking routes, but Choi (pictured above, testing a hold) kept tearing off the rocks on his harder route and told us this wasn't a good area to climb.
Instead we moved to a different part of the wall. In the past I've climbed in the Canadian Rockies and the first bolts always seem to be around ten to twelve feet off the sharp boulder strewn ground. Here at this crag though, the route setters placed the first bolts much lower, around six or seven feet off the ground, for which I was quite thankful. Plus, the ground was sand, so even if we did fall before we made our first clip we had a nice soft landing.
Perhaps it was a result of less initial stress, or that I was now more experienced, but I found myself climbing much better than I have in the past outdoors. I did not get a chance to climb any PB grades this time, but the routes I did climb were done smoother and easier than I've ever been able to climb before and at the same difficulty rating too.
There also seemed to be many mosquito nests on this cliff face too, but the mosquitoes knew better and stayed away from me, lest they make me angry... they wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
Ji-Hyeun and Choi both made valiant attempts at this unconfirmed route that Choi estimated to be about 5.12b, but fell just short. Click on the picture to blow it up and see how close Ji-Hyeun was to making it to the final chains (both she and Choi fell shortly after this point).
Eventually we had to head back and face a long, slow drive through rush-hour as what seemed like a thousand different Koreans all had the same idea to go to the same place at the same time. Before we got to the car though, Choi picked a few choice rocks from the beach of stones that may eventually become set in clay and drilled onto the Ace wall as new climbing holds
Choi had planned to take the whole group out for dinner afterwards, but Alvin, his wife, and myself all had to teach early in the morning, and I still had to pick up groceries as I had completely exhausted my food supplies the day before in preparation for the move. Furthermore, I had developed a head cold and lost my voice. Teaching the children tomorrow is going to be a real battle.