Am I Too Heavy to Climb?
The short answer is: absolutely not.
Rock climbing and going to a climbing or bouldering class/gym has always been on my bucket list. I run into some of the hand holds and grip strength obstacles at Spartan Races (that I always fail) that one would find on a rock wall, and I’ve always wanted to see how I’d fare when I’m not covered in mud or spent from so many miles of running and obstacles in a race.
My friend had registered for a Learn to Climb class through REI (not sponsored, just a huge fan!) and invited me and another friend of ours to join her in a small session for women. When I told my family that I was going to go rock climbing, someone responded:
“You have to lose weight to do that.”
Did that discourage me? Sure, a little. It never feels good to be ability-shamed based off your appearance (I have a LOT to say about that, but we’ll save it for another blog), but if anything, I was even more determined to go just to prove a point: that big girls can climb too.
When we arrived at the Pinnacle, or rock wall at the REI flagship store in downtown Seattle, we were greeted by the incredibly friendly instructor and met the three other girls who were taking the class with us. We spent about two hours getting fitted into harnesses, shoes, learning knots, and then practicing belaying techniques. Afterwards, we got to work in groups of three to hop on the wall - one climber, one belayer, and one “fairy” who essentially was a backup belayer to help with excess rope and hop in when necessary.
As someone who has a knee-buckling fear of heights, I didn’t quite make it to a bell or the top of any of the lines (although I’m told the Pinnacle is a little intimidating for first-time climbers), but I did make it decently far up the wall before my hand sweat gave me a good excuse to come back down. I’m much more comfortable belaying than I am climbing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t belong on that wall.
Did my weight affect my climbing? Not really, at least not in my opinion - although I will say that it was extremely difficult for me to trust my friends with my weight, but that’s more a mental obstacle than it is a physical one. And surprise! My friends didn’t drop me!
Should you climb if you are overweight? If you want to, then yes, absolutely!
What are your experiences with rock climbing?