Saturday, April 18, 2009

Climbing at Kangaroo Point

Four weeks ago, on March 19th, I set a goal for myself that I would do my first outdoor rockclimb in one month.

Today I achieved that goal with the help of some very good friends. It was great to be back on the rock and even better to make it to the top!

Climbing on the prosthesis was similar to what I'd expected it to be but I learned a lot that I hadn't expected. I've been visualizing the actions and trying to work out where my advantage points would be as well as what I'd need to overcome.

As MJ commented in an earlier post, imagine standing on a toe that never gets tired. This was great and it did provide a neat little perch when I could find a secure enough ledge to stand on.

Trouble was, the super flexible foot inside the shoe would also flex a little too much, twisting out of cracks when I didn't expect it, or twisting sideways off the tiny micro-edges of a sheer rock face without providing me the feedback that it was about to let go.

The foot itself is also a bit more narrow than a real foot, so putting my faith in the side of the climbing shoe was no longer an option.

I did like the fact that my toes didn't get sore in my left foot. This was fantastic when I was climbing a narrow crack. No big toe to start complaining!

A lot of my challenges today came down to a lack of sensation.

When you climb, you feel the rock through your feet a lot rather than looking for holds. A bit of pressure through the toes usually provides enough feedback to let you know whether you're going to stick or slip before transferring all of your weight to the hold.

This was definitely lacking on my left side, leaving me the challenge of working out a new system on the fly. More than once, I put my faith in a foot hold that proved to be a mistake. This new "spidey sense" will develop with more practice.

All in all, we had a great day and I had a good sense of accomplishment. I learned a LOT, found a few hitches that I'll have to work out, but eventually, I reached the top of the cliffs.

I'm happy to report that a lot of my mishaps on the cliff came less from prosthetic troubles and more from:
a) being out of practice
b) lacking proper climbing form
c) lacking confidence in my hands/shoes

... and all of that comes from not having climbed in six months. This is great news because I can easily overcome all of those by getting more practice in.

Looking forward to getting back out there for another try very soon! I've got a new form to work out so these are exciting times.

Lisa approaching the top!

Matt taking the hard road; this sheer face really shows his skill.

Mike and Mel, she's the best!


  1. Wow, Mike. You are really meeting the challenge. It does take a while to "feel" that new foot under us. I also learned it was about trust and confidence, too. It took me awhile to step over a shoe box. My brain would stop me. LOL

  2. Great to have you back mate.

  3. Awesome dude!!! Great to see you out there pushing it!

    It does take some time to get the 'feel' and to know where your foot is in space, but you will be speeding up the process immensely by putting yourself in situations like this.

    What have you got strapped to the back? I can see something there but not sure what it is?


  4. Holey Frik! Mike, you're not the guy in the office next door anymore, but seeing you doing this is ... fcuking amazing.

  5. You don't pay your photographer enough!