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Showing posts with label Climbing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climbing. Show all posts

The real-life Spider-Man.


Alain Robert is a French rock and urban climber, known as "the French Spider-Man" or "the Human Spider" and most famous for scaling skyscrapers. Robert has scaled 85giant structures around the globe including many of the world's tallest structures, most of which he has scaled using only his bare hands and climbing shoes.

Robert's urban climbing career has been characterized by an ever-expanding list of famous landmarks which includes the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and the Montparnasse Tower in Paris, the Sears Tower ( now called Willis Tower ) in Chicago, Illinois, Golden Gate Bridge and many more.

Burj Khalifa, formerly known as Burj Dubai, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 2,717 ft ( 160 habitable floors, plus 46 maintenance levels in the spire, and 2 parking levels in the basement ). The total cost for the Burj Khalifa project was about US$1.5 billion.
It has the world's fastest elevators at speed of 40 mph. Burj Khalifa was built primarily by workers from South Asia. Press reports indicated in 2006 that skilled carpenters at the site earned £4.34 a day, and labourers earned £2.84.

The building has been used by several experienced BASE jumpers for both authorized and unauthorized BASE jumping. And now, rumour has it that it will be Robert's next attempt. He has already been charged and jailed for his previous climbs. So, hopefully, it won't happen to him in UAE.

Here is a video of him climbing a 46 story skyscraper in Brazil:

Climbing outdoors: Deception Crags.

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Finally, after climbing indoors for almost a year, I made it "outside". It was my goal for this summer to go outside and get a feeling of "real rock climbing", and see how much different it was from climbing in the gyms. It was....fun!

After taking my "lead climbing" class at Edgeworks climbing gym in Tacoma, I couldn't wait to test my skills and everything I learned in the "real life". Still being relatively new to climbing, I needed something that would fit my climbing level. A friend of mine suggested Deception Crags ( also known as Exit 38 ) located in part along Horse State Park trail.

Deception Crags climbing area is very popular because it's a short drive from Seattle on I-90, it has scenic views of the valley and some of the best routes in the state. And by "the best routes" ( what mostly mattered to me), I mean moderate sport climbs from 5.5 to 5.11 (the lowest grades given to climbing routes that concisely describe the difficulty and danger of climbing the routes).

I hope, I don't have to emphasise how important it is to have an experienced and knowledgeable mentor (climbing mentor that is). My friends helped me choose the appropriate routes, challenging me slowly ( but steadily ) from the easiest to more difficult, showed a few new techniques and tricks, and introduced me to their friends-"crag rats" / "hard core climbers".

So now, you know how easy ( and fast) it is to move from gym environment to outdoors. Though, you can rely solely on your friends ( or Youtube) to learn how to climb, I intend to take more classes, as I've noticed that it worked better for me. Remember, climbing (just like many other outdoor activities) is all about practice...and fun ( well, at least for me)!

Climbing At Magnuson Park in Seattle.

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This post is not just about me climbing at Magnuson Park. It's another example of how easy it is to get into climbing. If you read my " The best way to learn climbing", you know the first steps:

-visit REI and get a "feeling", see if you like it
-take a belay class (don't sign up yet) at a local gym
-get your belay card
-invest in basic climbing gear (harness,shoes,a couple carabiners and a belay device)
-find (reliable and knowledgeable ) partners.
-keep learning

After I've done all of the above, I took another class- "Lead climbing", to learn:

• how to clip quickly, safely and properly
• advanced belay skills
• to fall safely
• understand the consequences of lead fall forces
• gain the skills necessary to pass your lead test ( hate tests).

I don't like dealing with all this "gym policy-safety first-do what we say", so I took my skills to Magnuson Park.

Did I mention it's FREE ?!

Best time to go there is on weekdays ( weekends tend to be swamped with "hard core climbers". Bring your own rope, quickdraws and , of course, a partner (or two). Basic knowledge I learned from the class, was enough for me to lead.


My next stop- investing ( or may be somebody will be generous enough to donate it ) in some basic gear -my own rope and quickdraws.

The Best Way To Learn Climbing In Washington

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The best way to learn climbing ?  One thing for sure, you won't learn it by watching videos or reading books ( believe me, I've tried). So, like they say:" Practice makes perfect".

If you are a beginner and not sure if rock climbing is for you, don't be in a rush to join a local climbing gym. If you just want to get a feeling of "rock climbing", try REI's flagship store in Seattle first. For just $25 you'll get a pair of shoes, a harness, a bunch of pictures of you climbing ( now you can tell your friends, that you are a climber and can show the proof) and a belayer ( somebody who holds the rope while you are climbing). If that felt like a thrilling experience, next step is learning the basics and getting your own "belay card".

What's a belay card? Belaying is the safety technique used to control the rope and keep the climber safe while they climb. A belay card allows you and your friends to belay each other on any climbing wall. But it's not a card you are after, since different climbing gyms have their own belay cards, it's the knowledge and skills. Every time you go to a new gym, they will ask you to take a "belay test". Good thing is, once you've passed the test (belay test ) at one climbing gym, you will be able to pass it anywhere else.

The best way to get "belay " checked ? Take a lesson! I took mine at the Edgeworks climbing gym in Tacoma. You don't have to be a member ( or have any experience) there to take a class.
For just $ 29, you'll learn everything you need to pass a test ( anywhere):

the basics of indoor climbing equipment
how to tie into a top-rope
how to belay effectively and safely
take ( and pass!) their belay test and get the card for their gym

You can rent the necessary equipment ( shoes $5 and a harness$3 ) right there at the gym at an extra charge.

After you've passed you test and got your card, and you still have doubts, you can opt for a day pass ($15).

The hardest part of climbing is not just the risk associated with this sport. The hardest part is to find a reliable partner, preferably, somebody who has more experience ( and patient enough ) to teach you, and eventually take you outside to climb "real rock".

Free Climbing Walls

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The Mountaineers' headquarters in the Magnusson Park
The Outside Climbing Wall
Sailing in the Magnusson Park
The Boulder in the North Sea Tac Park

The summer is just around the corner and more climbers flock outside to play on Washington's crags where they can be obedient from gyms' rules and fees.

There is a new addition to my collection of the free climbing walls. In my previous posts I wrote about the Marymoor Park in Redmond and Arbor Heights 360 in Auburn.

Recently biking along the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle, I swung by the Magnusson Park to check out the Mountaineers' new headquarters in old Navy building, where the organization moved into last November. A rock-climbing wall made of steel and fiberglass, painted and molded to resemble a mountainside in the Cascades, rises along the southern face of the building, visible from Sand Point Way Northeast.The courtyard features an artificial boulder. The wall is open to the public. It’s free to use, but occasionally is reserved for training courses run by the Mountaineers. The mountaineers built it and donated it to the City of Seattle!

The Magnusson Park offers a wide variety of water sports activities : kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, kiteboarding.

In my post about the North Sea Tac Park, I didn't write about a boulder I found ( to my surprise) in front of the Community Center. Its not much , but it sure beats sweating in a gym on a nice summer day. Besides, did I mention it was free ?

Another reason ( besides being free ) I loved those parks , you can really multi task there : trail running, biking, climbing- whatever the order you want to do it.

Multi-sport adventures in North Central Washington.

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North Central Washington is the most startling and diverse region of our state. With four distinct seasons, 300 sunshine-filled days a year, two stunning rivers running through local towns, blooming apple orchards and mountains so close you can touch them, your stay in this area will be memorable.

This weekend started just like any other for me , but took an interesting turn at the end.

On Saturday I arrived in Leavenworth for my weekend rafting trip along the Wenatchee river , which followed by a bike ride nearby. Since I am relatively new to the whole cycling scene and didn't really know where to go ( and road biking idea didn't really appeal to me ), I went to the only place I knew in Leavenworth - Ski Bowl.

Ski Hill Loop's 2 and 5 mile loops ,used for cross-country skiing in the winter, are open to hikers and mountain bikers in the summer. The unpaved trails are visible , well used and quite challenging ( at least it was for me ). A part of the trail offers good views of the Leavenworth valley; along another part, you can see work out platforms ( pull up bars, parallel bars,steppers ) illustrated with exercise pictures .

All in all, its a great area for your morning/evening work outs. Though I circled the trails a couple times it wasn't challenging enough for me. On the way back to my car, I looked up the hill, where an old ski jump tower was, and saw a hiking trail going up the hill. Without second thought I started pushing my bike ( it was too steep to bike ) towards my new goal. The effort paid off in the form of stunning views of the entire valley. The way down wasn't any easier. My bike ( or me ) kept leaning forward, every time I would squeeze the brakes. After nearly going over my head I decided to stop pretending to be a daredevil and pushed the bike down for the rest of the way.

After such an intense work out I thought I had deserved a schnitzel, washed down with a stein of authentic German beer. After dozens of times I've been here I still can't get enough of this fairytale town. The Bavarian spirit is so strong here that it makes you feel as if you're really somewhere in Germany. No matter what day of the week it is , there is always something going on here: art shows, festivals, celebrations, competitions. Even a simple walk along Front Street becomes a holiday.

On Sunday I only had half of the day, so I wanted to take the full advantage of it. Though it was my second year rafting and forth year visiting that area, I never made it further east to the Wenatchee valley. I was intrigued by its nickname " The Apple Capital of the World " and the unofficial headquarters for the area's outdoor activities.

On the way to Wenatchee I visited a small town Cashimier. For a small town ( "the Old American City " as it sometimes called ) it gets lots of publicity due to the local icon " Aplets and Cotles candy factory ". In my opinion , calling it "a factory " is a bit overrated. A small shop with some machines in the back. "Factory " tours and free samples are the main reasons people come to visit it.
The Chelan County Historical Society Museum is spread out over three acres and includes 20 original and furnished pioneer structures. Among other attractions : Historic Downtown and Apple Annie's Antique Mall the largest antique shop in the Pacific Northwest.

Entering Wenatchee through Wenatchee ave , one realizes why it won the " Great American Main Street " award in 2003. The avenue is a mix of cultural activities, shopping destinations, dining opportunities and outdoor experiences.

My first ( and due to a little misfortune, the last) destination was the Wenatchee Riverfront Park and its "Apple Capital Loop Trail ". I have to say , that it was the highlight of my whole weekend. Biking along the scenic banks of the Columbia river with the surrounding views of the snow capped mountains, dramatically sculpted scablands and green apple orchards was an inspiring and relaxing journey.

Another reason for missing most of the Weantchee's attractions - the visitors information center is located not in downtown, but near Ohme Gardens ( another famous site ). So, if you decide to travel down there, make sure you stop by the center or you can check out the Wenatchee official web site.

Budget travel tip : My personal reason for choosing Wenatchee as the headquarters for my trip was -accommodation prices. Just 20 minutes from Leavenworth the hotel prices were as low as $ 35 per day ( comparing to $ 100 in Leavenworth )

On the way home I still had some time and Peshastin Pinnacles State Park was right on my way. Peshastin Pinnacles State Park is a 34-acre desert park featuring a group of sandstone slabs and spires called "the pinnacles." Climbable spires reach 200 feet into the air. Rocks and trails provide views of surrounding orchards, the Enchantment Mountain Range, and the Wenatchee River valley. Though I wasn't there for climbing I enjoyed the park's mile and a half of steep hiking trail and watching a couple climbers making their way up one of the pinnacles.

In conclusion , whether you are a serious outdoorsman or simply planning a leisurely getaway, North Central Washington has an adventure for you. But be warned : its highly addictive and one day ( or even one weekend ) is not enough to fully experience and appreciate this beautiful region of our state.

Climbing ( Marymoor park in Redmond)

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The famous Marymoor velodrome
To the top!

Getting ready for the climb

Well, its almost summer time and its time to leave the stuffy, sweaty gyms and go outside.

I like going to the Marymoor park in Redmond. They have a great climbing wall, and what is even more important its free.The park itself is great- it has it all: biking,hiking,climbing,soccer and baseball fields.