D and I went rock-climbing on wednesday at Planet Rock in Pontiac. It was good fun!
I'm really sore though. I haven't climbed in months (nor used my arm muscles much at all during that time, I have come to realize). I didn't give my best performance, but I enjoyed myself anyway. I did several successful climbs, a few of which were quite challenging (for me). I tired quickly, but I kept challenging myself on a few even trickier climbs, even though I didn't complete them. At the end of the night, I did a couple of easy ones to make myself feel more successful.
We alternated between climbing and belaying for one another. The belay person stands on the ground while you climb, maintaining your safety rope so they can catch you if you fall. The rope goes from the climber's harness, up through a top pulley, down to a second pulley in the belayer's hands. With this system, it is quite simple to catch even a significantly heavier person than yourself, if you know what you're doing.
As we started trying more challenging climbs, we each took several falls. The falls are no problem, you just bounce and swing for a bit on the rope, then pull yourself back to the wall. Without trying things that are too hard, you never get better -- this is why we belay.
Anyway all this detail is to explain the one un-fun moment I had. I was belaying D. The belay device (pulley) was clipped to the front of my harness, and I was calmly feeding the slack part of the rope through my hands while watching him climb. I'm a pretty short person, so the pulley was level with the middle of my abdomen.
He was having trouble with a particularly tricky section, and he slipped off. I put my right hand behind me, which is how you lock the rope. All perfectly normal. The belay device lifted up with his weight on the rope, maybe my hips lifted a bit also, and I suddenly gasped in startled pain. Somehow a small piece of skin on the underside of my breast got caught in the belay device.
I froze in surprise, not sure what to do. The rope was taut, equilibrium had been reached, and D was comfortably dangling above me while sizing up his next move. My flesh was pinched between the rope and the metal device. I gently tried pulling away, but I could feel that I couldn't pull free without ripping the skin. As long as there was tension on the rope, I was quite trapped.
I looked around, trying to decide if I should ask somebody for help. It kinda hurt, having my boob pinched with D's full weight squishing 1 centimeter's width of skin. On the other hand, trying to force it free would probably cause more damage. I realized that as soon as some pressure was off the rope, I'd be free without assistance. As long as he didn't want to be lowered down, I didn't need any help. (Lowering would have pulled the pinched flesh further into the device. That's where I draw the line!)
As soon as he found his next move and started climbing again, tension went out of the rope. Relieved, I gently extricated my tender flesh with a happy sigh. Owie! I spent the rest of his climb (and in fact the rest of the evening) being very careful to keep all parts of me far away from the vicious device. Fortunately there was no tearing or blood, just a nasty pinch. But what a weird way to hurt myself!
Weird injuries or not, I really enjoyed climbing. I need to start doing that more regularly again.