So tired, Adventures in Climbing!

***Editor’s Note: While the story is true, names and locations were changed to protect the identity of those involved.  Also, some links, content, and language may be deemed inappropriate or offensive.***

Part I

Being the advisor of a college climbing club is an adventure in its own right.  Making sure the right paperwork is filled out for travel, raising money for comps, not overspending on team gear.  Gotta make sure the team shirts are poppin’.  Oh, right, also gotta make sure not to use the college logo without approval from legal.  However, once all the “i’s” are dotted, and the “t’s” are crossed the adventures really begin.  Working with a group of college students outside of the classroom is a blast.  Whether we’re trying to raise money at a bake sale, competing nationally, or simply hanging out, the mood has always been light and inviting.

Our club is luckier than most in that we have a small budget allocated by the college for expenses that support club activities.  It’s not a ton of money, but it affords us things like an end of the year pizza party, or the ability to bring in a guest speaker.  This year the students decided to hold a team lock-in at our local climbing gym.  

The lock-in is limited to 20 people and runs from 10PM-8AM.  20 college students mostly in their early 20’s running around, climbing, playing games, competing, and for the love of GOD, hopefully sleeping at some point over the 10 hours while locked inside of a building with over 14,000 sq ft of climbing.

Now, while it is true that I love to climb, I also teach 8 AM classes, so I am accustomed to going to bed really early.  I don’t remember the last time I witnessed the stroke of midnight, but I resolved to do my best by trying and keep up with 20 college students who probably don’t remember a time that they went to bed before midnight.

To prep for the event, I indulged in some noodles and tofu curry from Chef Chan’s.  Not that I expect anyone to have any idea what or who that is, but Chef Chan makes delicious, filling, and greasy Chinese food.  Imagine if White Castle were to make high-end Chinese food…it might end up something like Chef Chan’s.  It’s very good and it seemed like a late dinner was the right move to get the night started off on a high note. 

9 PM: I get to the gym about an hour early just to chat with some friends and hang out as the staff closes up shop.

We were blessed with silky sounds and stylings of Richard Cheese singing WAP (Explicit Lyrics).  As the staff filtered out, the students filtered in.  Two staffers Duncan and Peabody worked the lock-in and we remarkable in their efforts and support of the club.

The night started as you would expect.  Everyone brought in their gear, plus pillows, and in some cases sleeping bags.  They brough lots of snacks, mostly the type of food you would expect from college students, we had doughnuts, chips, candy, cookies, cookies, brownies, cookies, bread, but also a fresh batch of chili, and more cookies.  Pregaming with Chef Chan turned out to be a good idea.  I brought fresh fruit and veggies, with homemade hummus and dill dips.  Just kidding I brought three bags of candy…when in Rome!

We settle in, Duncan and Peabody hop on the mic to explain the dos and don’ts of the evening, as well as to assign the yoga studio as a designated sleeping area if anyone decides to call it a night.  

10:30 PM: I already find myself unable to hold any intelligible conversations due to it being so “late”.  Is it too early to go to sleep?

11 PM: I think I heard someone say “fuck gravity” after they send a route.  This is an expression I have never thought of. It makes no sense, and that is why I love college students.  Sleepiness has increased, and I start thinking about the dark comfort of the yoga studio floor.  Also, I start digging deeper into the meaning of “fuck gravity”.  Tiredness is taking over.

We all climb and BS with each other until around midnight when crate stacking begins.  

12 AM: Crate Stacking.  Also, maybe if I eat a cookie I’ll wake up.

12:01 AM: I eat a cookie and it made no difference.  Also, it was not a good cookie, how come grocery store “bakery” cookies always let me down.  Grocery store “bakery” cookies are like the sophists of desserts.  They look good, but there is no substance.  Also, are cookies a dessert?  I’m really tired, operation cookie is a complete failure, I’m happy that I brought a sleeping bag.

For those of you who don’t know about crate stacking, it’s incredibly fun.  Essentially, you start off with your feet in the handles of an upside-down milk crate.  You’re then handed a new milk crate which you stack on-top of the crate you are standing on.  Step up to the newly stacked crate and repeat the process.  The climber/stacker is in a harness and attached to a top rope, so that when the crates fall, the climber doesn’t come tumbling down with the rest of the tower.  Climbers can make it pretty high, easily 15-20 feet off the ground before the crate tower collapses.  Students are taking their turns, celebrating successes, and keeping track of the total crates stacked for each participant.

After everyone who wants to try has taken a turn, the group moves on to another event called quick drop.  This is also very fun.  

Duncan and Peabody have climbers walk up to a platform 35 feet off the ground, they are harnessed up and strapped into an auto belay to be lowered quickly to the ground.  It’s not for the faint of heart, the belay device moves fast.  As students are getting in line to take a leap of faith (it’s actually very safe, and regularly tested, so not much faith is required), I find myself realizing that it’s 1 AM.

1 AM: I can’t keep my eyes open, so off to the yoga studio I go.

Over the next 30 minutes I try to get comfortable on the floor, it’s not too bad.  I hear crates crashing and students cheering, as I begin to teeter on the brink of unconsciousness.

1:30 AM: “Carrot, someone got hurt, you should come downstairs”

1:29 AM: Yep, I woke up and ran downstairs so fast that time went backwards.  Students looked to be frozen in time, there was lots of blood on the floor, and I’m no longer feeling tired.

Sitting in the office was a very composed student named Bert.  Peabody was there holding a bloody towel against Bert’s head, Duncan was calmly following the protocol of questions for head injuries, and the other professor, Professor Swami along with a few other students were putting the details of the accident together.

1:25 AM: As Popo Bandiqua was trying to set the record for crates stacked, Bert was helping out by readying the next crate to hand to Popo Bandiqua.  Popo Bandiqua biffed, and the tower collapsed.  When a 25-foot tower of milkcrates comes tumbling down, those in the vicinity run for cover.  Well, there was no cover to be had and a milk crate nailed Bert right in the back of the head.

1:35 AM: Back in the office, the bleeding has mostly stopped.  Bert’s brother Snuffy is on the way.  A plan is set.  Swami will stay with the students at the gym, and the night will go on.  I’ll follow Snuffy and Bert to the 24-Hour Urgent Care.  Everything will be fine, who even cares about sleep?  While we were waiting for Snuffy to arrive at the gym, we filled out an incident report, collect gear, and map out the fastest route.

I should note that both Duncan and Peabody were spectacular during this ordeal.  As Peabody was applying pressure to Bert’s head, he was telling us that he just finished studying how to treat an open headwound during an EMT class.  Peabody is studying to become a nurse.  He is absolutely going to make a spectacular nurse one day!

2:10 AM: We made it to Urgent Care.

Part II coming Saturday…


15 Replies to “So tired, Adventures in Climbing!”

  1. Gravity sucks…or rather the earth does, and we call it gravity. Just think how things would change without it. Ball sports wouldn’t work the same way – I’m not sure when friction would stop a ball from flying away, but it still wouldn’t come down. Climbing would not be a big deal if falling were not possible. Bicycling in the wind might involve flying.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Travel would be very different, and the need for shoes would start to decline. There might be a much higher demand for tethers? This will be on my thoughts all day!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Richard Cheese. Oh yeah. Do you mean “sophists of deserts” or “desserts” because I imagined St. Jerome… Which is funny but maybe wrong… Or that hermit in Life of Brian… But on this subject, it’s safe to say a bad cookie is the desert in which hope dies. There were houses in the barrio where I lived in San Diego that were held up by milk crates where the foundation had been eaten away by termites. The power of the milk crate is NEVER unappreciated by me. As for gravity, I’ve never trusted it, sinister bitch, pulling me down on my face for NO reason. What up with that? (ha ha)

    Sorry… it’s been a long reality…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. St. Jerome and The Hermit are so much better than what I was thinking!!! Good call. Cookies do such heavy lifting, that when they let you down, you really feel it. I wish the expression “bad cookie” was only ever metaphorically used. It’s a shame that there are literal bad cookies!

      Your reference point for milk crates is exactly how strong those things are an underrated and under appreciated feat of engineering for sure!

      I’ll see what if there’s anything to be done about gravity, but I’m not holding my breath!

      A long reality indeed! I’m going to use that to sign off my emails in 2023!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bert was lucky there was no serious head injury.

    And, in emergency rooms or centers there are a lot of crazy and outrageous true stories.

    One man years ago was brought into a hospital because he was supposedly stuck inside a cat. It is the most vile thing, but I was a kid when my mother’s friend’s sister was present in the emergency room when this supposedly happened.

    I heard about a man sticking his penis in the part of the old model vacuums to find out there was a blade inside and got cut up- but never would I have imagined or thought possible someone trying to screw a cat.

    Liked by 1 person

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