ExE Rock Climbing Conclusion

by rachel

Ah… following that rather heavy post down below I think I’ll do a lighter one up here – fair warning to anyone who intends to read past this post!

I’m proud to say we’ve completed our rock climbing module for Year 5! It’s really been one of the most enjoyable ExE activities for me over these past 5 years. I think I can say I’ve progressed from the start of the lessons, whether in terms of self confidence or skill sets in climbing.

Before this series of lessons, the last time I remember doing any sort of ‘rock climbing’ was at this beach event in sentosa when I was 11 and they had an inflatable rock climbing wall. I recall climbing to the top of the squishy and possibly deflating structure and then shaking at the top when I realized I had to come down because unlike rock climbing in school there was no harness. Don’t worry the height was probably no higher than one and a half stories and it was basically a huge inflated platform at the bottom so it was completely safe, just 11 year old Rachel being a chicken here!

But yes I have since grown from that shaking at the top of inflatable rock walls to climbing actual walls blindfolded!! When the whole module started I was honestly rather doubtful of my own abilities, wondering whether I would be able to even get on the wall, much less get anywhere but I was glad to find out that I was actually capable of doing so! To be fair, I’m not actually that scared of heights despite the little anecdote I shared above oops just so I don’t accidentally give anyone the wrong impression of the feats I’ve scaled.

But yeah I actually do quite like heights, most of the fear on that structure stemmed from its …squishiness than anything else. I’ve enjoyed doing various rope adventure courses in primary school and over the past few years so the height factor wasn’t as big a block for me as what I thought my own physical abilities would be.

For some reason, the group I was with always ended up with the tougher walls to scale. I remember when we were trying to scale the pregnant lady (as christened by Mr Tan), the first time I wasn’t able to overcome it despite going to the side of it instead of directly over it. I felt so disappointed by myself on the wall, little more than 3m above ground and yet unable to continue moving. Being the stubborn stubborn child that I am, I refused to let myself be defeated by her plastic bulge and tried again later that day.

Before going up again, I watched various people try the same wall, noting what people did when they managed to get over and what they did when they didn’t manage to. The hardest part of going over by the side of the pregnant lady was this one segment where you have to sort of swing over or stretch over in order to get back on the climbing route because there is a lack of handholds in the area, making it hard to pull your own weight over to the left of the wall again.

In order to get myself across, I figured I just had to go for it. There was no way around it. And I was so happy when I manage to grab on to the handhold over the pregnant lady and hoist myself back into the main area of the route. I then managed to scale quite a number more panels before being belayed down.

Of course, Mr. Tan being the really agile ExE teacher he was encouraged us to try going over the pregnant lady directly by applying the twist method as we climbed, basically using our core and leg muscles to stand up and reach over the bulge instead of going to the side of it or trying to pull ourselves over with our arms.

I did try the following week but I didn’t manage to do so. However, I’m glad that I did still at least attempt!

During the last climbing session, we did a blindfolded climb. My partner was Vanessa and between the two of us we had to choose one of us to be blindfolded and the other to guide. Initially I had my reservations about being the blindfolded climber. The route we covered was route B which was by far much easier than any of the other routes I’d tried before but I was afraid I think of looking silly on the wall as I climbed blindfolded, of not being able to find the right handholds up there. But I decided I might as well try because after all when else would I get a chance like this? So I did and I’m glad to say it was actually a very pleasant experience. I found that without the use of sight I was more encouraged to really just reach out around me and try to see what I could grab on to and use. I remember Nessa telling me after the climb how sometimes when she stopped to climb herself she would find me already moving on by myself. Being ‘blind’ can actually really encourage you to go for it and try out new things, something that we might not necessarily do while we can see.

At the same time, it’s still nevertheless very important to have someone guiding you. At times when I really couldn’t seem to find a rock myself, having Vanessa there to reassure me that there was indeed a rock to climb on if I threw myself to the left a bit more gave me the confidence I needed to keep climbing. Also important was having the belay team there and feeling the reassurance that the rope provided pulling against my hips.

The climb as a whole actually felt much shorter than I thought it would – before I knew it, Nessa was telling me to take off my blindfold because I’d reached the top! But boy was that blindfold sweaty …

As a whole I think Rock Climbing really taught me to step out of my comfort zone and always just keep trying if I can. When you’re up there on the wall and you can visually see the progress you put in and the hard work that went into that, you are increasingly motivated to just keep climbing and keep trying. Furthermore, it also taught me about teamwork and trusting the people you work with and how important that can be. Finally, it was also a reminder to trust in myself and what I can push myself to do because a lack of self confidence doesn’t get you anywhere!!

Done with Rock Climbing and looking forward to the next ExE module!