This post is a bit of a throwback to when I first went climbing at Gravity Climbing Centre in Inchicore. I’ve spent many a Saturday there since, climbing until I can barely hold on to the wall any more…
My alarm was set for ten but I woke at six; unsure if it was excitement, or work had destroyed my circadian rhythm. I decided it was a little of both.
I tried to sleep some more, it was my Saturday lie-in after all, but eventually I caved and got up at nine. Shambling to the bathroom I shaved about three weeks of beard growth off my face while trying to find rock climbing motivational music on YouTube.
Convinced such a thing doesn’t exist and hoping that the day’s climbing went better than the music search I pulled on a pair of leggings with some racing shorts over them, and a gym shirt.
I threw on a tracksuit and Outdoor Club hoodie over everything until I got to Gravity.
I hopped on the 11 o’clock bus and asked the driver if there was a stop in Inchicore. In thickly accented staccato English he informed me “I go to Dublin” so I decided not to push the point.
As it turns out, there isn’t a Bus Éireann stop in Inchicore, so I got off the bus at Heuston and on the Luas back as far as Black Horse. [Note: It seems it doesn’t specifically need to be a Bus Éireann bus top for one of their buses to stop there. I didn’t know this at the time and evidently, neither did the driver!]
I was running a few minutes late at this point, and was booked in for the 12.30 Induction Session so I called the centre to let them know. They were nice about it and said they’d wait for me before they got started.
Arriving at the centre I realised that my search for “rock climbing music” had been foolish as I was greeted by The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil playing from unseen speakers.
In the (somehow not cluttered) office-meets-cafe-meets-shop, I met Zoe (American, not Canadian – I asked) and Sue, who was on work experience for an outdoor pursuits instructors course in college.
Zoe would be our instructor for the day and after I filled in the registration form and laced up the Red Chilli climbing shoes I was given, we went out onto the mats.
I had originally intended to take the class with a friend of mine, but he had to work; so it was myself and five strangers, all with limited to no climbing experience.
Some might have felt intimidated being surrounded by strangers, who had already had the chance to meet each other while you were running late on a tram and holding the whole class up; and I’m pretty sure I would have been if I’d thought of it that way.
Instead it reminded me of a realisation I had on my Kilimanjaro trip a few years ago. When you travel with friends you have someone to talk to, but you rely on talking to them. A friend can become a crutch and can make meeting new people harder. When you travel alone, you either speak to new people or you’re alone. That’s it.
In this spirit I introduced myself to the rest of the class between warming up and joint loosening exercises; and then it was onto the first wall.
We began with a traverse of the children’s wall, moving sideways and focusing on using the tip of your toes rather than the ball or edge of your foot. I had a little (very little) climbing experience myself, but always in runners and using actual climbing shoes to stay on your toes was new.
From there we moved on to the orange routes (or “problems”) on the higher walls. The oranges were the easiest and according to the grade list on the wall of the cafe currently denoted Font 3-4a problems.
Originally I was drawn to bouldering because the lack of ropes meant that you could climb without a partner, which meant that you (or your buddy) wouldn’t be bored senseless on the ground belaying for half of their day “climbing”. That was quickly replaced by thoughts of “Why are there no ropes? You people are crazy!” as soon as I was halfway up a wall.
So there was a fair bit of nervous laughter from myself during our time with Zoe, who told me she’d been climbing consistently for about five years. This was pretty hard to believe when you saw her move on the wall, at times she seemed completely weightless.
The 45 minute training session took in vertical walls, slabs (leaning away from you) and overhangs (leaning towards you) of Font 3-4c (the orange and the black-and-yellow problems).
The €20 fee for the Induction session included shoe rental, 45 minutes of training with a climbing coach, and lifetime registration; plus you can stay for as long as you want after. Which is how I ended up there three hours later with absolutely no strength left in my arms and my hands on fire.
It was only talking to Zoe that I realised how long I’d been there and how tough a workout I was getting. If I’d spent three hours in my normal gym I’d be both bored out of my mind and wasting my time, whereas I would’ve stayed at Gravity all day if I was physically able to climb any longer.
I’ll definitely be back.
Walking to the bus stop during last week’s Luas strike (don’t get me started on public transport in this country!) I came across The Wall.
I haven’t had a chance to climb there yet, and I don’t see myself making the trek out to Sandyford on days I don’t have to; but I can definitely see myself bringing a tracksuit and climbing shoes to the office to get some time in on the wall on work days from now on.
And if you want to know why I called this post Gravity Falls, watch this video.