Ah, slab climbing. Levitating your body up a lower-angled section of rock while relying almost entirely upon the friction created between the rock and the rubber on your climbing shoes – actual holds are few and far between, and after a hard day of slabbin’ it’s your calves that are sore rather than your guns. Most people either love it or hate it, but regardless of which side of the spectrum you fall in, everyone can usually agree that there’s no better teacher for learning to trust your feet.
As for me, though I don’t want a steady diet of it, I can appreciate a good dose of slab every now and then…that is, when I’m NOT pregnant and am flexible enough to get my foot at hip-height without having to use my free hand to place it there! But up until recently, C had never experienced what it was like to paddle his way up a completely featureless boulder. Slab climbing is actually a GREAT option for young climbers. Though it’s difficult to replicate in a gym atmosphere, outdoor slabs are a great way for a child to experiment with footwork without getting frustrated about not being able to reach holds (since there basically are none!)
C and I stumbled upon a great kid-sized boulder on one of our hikes the other day. Thankfully I had C’s climbing shoes in my daypack (because you just never know…), and when he saw the boulder he enthusiastically put them on. He put one foot on the rock, started to push up, but then immediately looked confused. “Where are the hand holds, Mommy?”
I pointed out a small depression that would be perfect for him to smear his left foot on to get him started. Once he weighted that foot, I showed him how he could step up really high with his other foot, and then rock his weight up and over onto the higher foot – and low and behold, he high-stepped his way right up to the top of the boulder without hesitation. It was almost like I could see the light bulb go off in his little head. “These are my magic climbing shoes,” he told me as we shared a snack on the top of his latest victory.
As I sat there with C, I realized that climbing a slab is a little bit like navigating through a major life change (like a new baby, hypothetically…). When I look ahead, I can’t see all the bumps and twists and turns that I know will be waiting for our family as soon as our feet leave the ground and we head to the hospital in the next couple of weeks. There’s a lot of unknowns, but our plan is to treat the next few months like a slab – just keep stepping up and rocking on, one foot at a time. And eventually we’ll get where we need to be. : )
Any other thoughts on slab climbing? (Either literally and/or metaphorically?)