A little over a week ago, I was able to attend two nights of the Psicobloc competition in Park City, Utah. It was such an amazing way to close out the evenings after ORshow, I got Psico fever. I became obsessed with the idea of climbing on the wall. I mean what could actually be cooler than climbing a wall up to 35′ (that’s as far as the organizers will allow the public to go), and then just falling off into the water. WHAT A RUSH!
So after a few failed attempts to actually make it up to PC and get on the wall, I was able to talk my good friend Jude into going. So her, Tim (Jude’s BF), Erica (Jude’s friend) and I all decided to go up on Sunday. And although it was a little bit busy, after all it was the weekend. It was also extremely hot, about 95° outside. Which turned out to be quite nice when you took the 35′ plunge into the water..
The pool itself is only 12′ deep and I did manage to touch the bottom of the water when I fell once. But there’s really no danger if you control the fall. The wall itself has all levels of climbing on it. Everything from beginner to advanced. And there is one route most everyone can top out, as well as a few that will challenge some of the most advanced climbers.
When we got there, we decided to get warmed up so we all took a lap on the 5.8, and began to work our way up to the higher grades. It seemed as though having about 10 people in line ahead of us was the perfect rotation. Plenty of rest time, but we could still stay warmed up. After out second lap up, Jude had a little trouble making her back to the pool edge. I’m not really sure what happened, but it seems when you take the plunge, it disorients you a bit. Somehow you end up inhaling a little water, and it’s really hard to kick paddle with rock climbing shoes on.
This is an account of what happened in Jude’s words: “I practiced walking off a diving board that whole week, but simply falling from 15 ft is nothing compared to the Psicobloc experience: climbing, being out of breath, and then falling from 35 ft high and having to tread and swim in climbing shoes. Instead of falling and quickly popping back up like I had done in my practices at the rec center, Psicobloc makes you feel like you’re falling forever. I had time to think, “Where the heck is the water?” and then when I finally plunged, I struggled to get back to the surface. So by this time I’m panting really hard and for some reason, when I tried to swim, I was just staying in place. The panic crept in so I finally admitted that I might not make it to the edge of the pool and finally gave a quiet, “help” and of course everybody heard because there’s a whole line of people just waiting for their turn to climb. Two guys jumped in, threw a floaty thing, and hauled me out of there (thanks, if you’re reading this!). One of the people who worked at the Olympic Park was like, “Heyyyyy so…do you know how to swim?” And I gave a sheepish, “Kind of?” The guy who pulled me out of the water piped in, “It’s no big deal. I can just pull her out whenever she’s done climbing” (which I thought was a really generous offer!), but the Olympic Park guy said “Um, no.” Another worker came by and I thought he was going to kick me out, but instead he offered me a life vest! I was super grateful and he was totally understanding, saying, “I get it, you know. You’re a climber, not a swimmer.” That was awesome of him to let me keep climbing with a life vest! All in all, I had tons of fun, despite the drowning part. 10/10 would do again next year. Except maybe I’ll take a few swimming lessons beforehand.” So Jude came running back over and jumped back in line with her floatation vest and a smile, always making the best of the situation.
We took turns climbing and snapping pictures. But like most times I climb with others, I’m still on the wall when they’re putting away their shoes. The group was more than happy to hang out and watch as I got my fill. After all, if we had left early, I wouldn’t have been able to send the Dyno problem.
I highly recommend getting up to Park City this weekend (it’s the last weekend it’s open) and getting on the wall. It’s the most fun I’ve EVER had on plastic… Also, be sure to check out the Psicobloc competition next summer. You will not be disappointed.