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August 9, 2011 > Experiencing the wall

Experiencing the wall

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

When I approached City Beach and Rock Gym Manager Marcus Odor about doing an article on rock climbing, they were thrilled. Upon the conclusion of setting up our get together, he asked me, "You want to make this an experimental session, too?"

On my end of the line, there was silence. Surely on Marcus' end of the phone call, the silence was deafening. Do I really want to get on the wall? Not so much. What did I say? "I'll throw on some comfy clothes and if I'm feeling courageous, I'll climb." Had I known the rush and exhilarating affect it would have on me, however, I wouldn't have hesitated with a boisterous, "Heck yeah!"

Still, when I arrived at City Beach and glanced at the 17,000 square foot rock climbing facility, I was intimidated. In my mind, all I was thinking was, "Let's get through this interview and hopefully he forgot he asked me to climb." But after talking with Odor about rock climbing, it was hard to ignore the immense passion that was reverberating throughout the gym.

What I hoped to be a quick in-and-out chit chat about rock climbing turned into a two-hour rock climbing extravaganza. We talked about the history of rock climbing; indoor rock climbing; outdoor rock climbing; the evolution of the sport; the safety and technology of climbing the wall; general fitness; the team-building aspects of climbing; the multiple facets and challenges you can embark in; and on and on.

Over 40 surpassed and still I hadn't strapped on a harness. My last question was answered and then Marcus looked at me with a huge smile and asked, "So you ready to climb?"

Forty minutes ago, I would have found a way out of it. But after all I learned in that time, and maybe some of Marcus' passion found its way into my bloodstream, I was gung ho for a chance to mount the wall.

Over the next hour, I managed to climb upwards to 100 feet of wall, experience rock climbing first hand for the first time in my life. On five separate occasions, I trekked up a different wall. Much like all the City Beach members and visitors, I had varying successes, making it to the top of two climbs. Not so much in the three others.

If you don't believe me, go to City Beach, ask for Marcus and he'll tell you himself. They are on Technology Place in Fremont. Take it from me, it's extremely safe, but you still get that scary, butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling. And it's perfect for your fitness needs, or just a hangout with friends and family.

That's just my experience. Get out to City Beach and experience it yourself. And don't think you can substitute rock climbing for some other extreme sport; being on that wall is an experience like no other.

Don't knock it until you try it.

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