Climbing 101


Finally! It took us the better part of 2 years to schedule and follow-through on the gift Hunter gave us for Christmas in 2016. Yeah, we know. LAME. Weekends just didn’t match up for both of us on the dates the class was offered until now. But man-oh-man are we glad the stars finally aligned so we could do this!

Keith Peterson of River Rock Outfitter in Fredericksburg, VA made this day an exceptional value. Though it was given to us as a present, we believe the other classmates each paid about $100 — an incredible bargain for what Keith provides in the Climbing 101 course. All equipment was provided, including helmet and climbing shoes. We were on-site from 8 AM to about 3 PM, during which we learned the basics of safety, how to tie necessary knots, how to communicate during a climb, and how to belay using an ATC.* We practiced knots and belaying, then got right into climbing — belaying for each other under Keith’s watchful eye. We tried out 3 different climbs, and then finished the day with rappelling and a mini-lesson on how to climb up a rope using a grigri device. There were 5 of us in the course, which made for lots of personal attention.

Audrey, Brent, Henri, Fergus, and Ray. [photo by Keith Peterson]
No one felt rushed and everyone got multiple opportunities to practice. Keith was an impressively patient and knowledgeable instructor — reassuring, coaching, and encouraging all day long without the slightest hint of impatience. Frankly, given Henri’s disposition, we’re not sure how he pulled it off. He seemed to be enjoying the day as much as all of us in the course did, clearly passionate about the sport and clearly excited to see people pushing themselves to learn and develop this new skill.

After learning the basics and climbing/belaying all day last Saturday, we’re both stoked to continue practicing, growing in confidence, learning more, and developing skills. (Henri already ordered hand/finger strengtheners on Amazon…because of course she did). The plan for now is to do some indoor climbing at a gym in Richmond called Triangle Rock Club later this month. Alongside that, we’d like to do more outdoors climbing with River Rock Outfitter, including the Climbing 102 course.

With luck, we won’t need to wait 2 years to make another class work for our schedules!


*Henri kept annoying poor Keith with questions about why things are called what they are called (because she’s a huge nerd), then came home and looked up the etymology of “belay” and why ATC stands for “Air Traffic Controller.” Turns out that is a brand name of a belay device created by Black Diamond, but the term ATC is now used for belay devices of that kind, sort of like people say “Kleenex” for any brand of facial tissue.

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