This summer, my friend Marissa and I decided to try out rock climbing with an Open Group Climb with Apex. At first, it seemed we were doomed to bad luck, as it began raining as soon as we arrived to the parking lot meeting point at Devil’s Lake State Park. We met our guide for the day, Jill, who distributed gear and made sure it fit us correctly, and the rest of our group, who included a family of rock climbing enthusiasts. We sat in our cars for a bit, waiting the rain out, until we decided it was clear enough to go climbing.
We went on a short but steep hike up to the bluffs where Jill had laid out four climbing routes for us to try. On our way up, she explained some background info about the unique nature at Devil’s Lake. When we arrived at the bluffs, Jill made sure we had our gear on properly, taught us how to tie into the ropes, and explained how to belay. Then we were off!
The rock had dried out quickly and didn’t pose a problem for climbing. Marissa climbed first, and I belayed her; then we switched off. Climbing was much harder than I thought it would be, and I had not realized how much of climbing is mental. This challenge just made it even more fun and rewarding when I climbed higher and higher. The day was spent switching between different routes and between climbing and belaying. Belaying might not sound as fun as climbing, but I did enjoy watching Marissa climb, helping her find holds in the rocks that she couldn’t see from her vantage point, and cheering her on. With Jill providing helpful tips and encouragement the whole time, climbing was really a group activity.
We ended the day by following Jill up to the top of the bluffs to learn about how the ropes had been set up for the climb and how to take them down before heading down towards the parking lot. Marissa and I enjoyed our first climbing experience and can’t imagine a better place to have done it than at Devil’s Lake with Apex!