Climbing High

These two students, Senior Kyle Pereira and Senior Mark Paley, express their love and dedication to a rising sport: rock climbing.


Photo by Sydney Pearce

Senior Mark Paley shares his new favorite activity: rock climbing.

Sydney Pearce, Repoter

Two students have participated in a growing fad around the world: rock climbing. More and more people every day are getting hooked by this sport and its dangerous, death-defying moves and sky-high holds. Senior Kyle Pereira and senior Mark Paley gave their information and details about this ascending sport during a car ride back from Vertex Climbing Center in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Photo by Sydney Pearce

“So, it all started when my dad told me to go rock climbing with Mark, and the next day, Mark asked me if I wanted to go rock climb with him, without any communication. We went and did it, and after we felt like ‘Wow, my arms are really strong. Let’s go again!’” said Pereira.

These seniors reported the benefits of such a dangerous sport.

“Sometimes it makes me feel a lot stronger. It’s good exercise for all parts of your body. All of the people are so nice there! I was trying to think of an example of someone who wasn’t nice there, and I literally couldn’t think of a single one!” said Paley.

“We try to go every Thursday, usually on B-days because we both don’t have sixth periods. It’s usually Monday or Thursday when were available to go and spend a decent amount of time there. Sometimes we get to go on the weekend where there are no work conflicts,” said Pereira.

The two students discussed the trials and tribulations involved in the sport.

“My hands are always blistered now. I’m always in pain. Rock climbing uses different muscle groups than what you are used to using in normal life, so when we first joined we were in all sorts of pain and discomfort.””

— Kyle Pereira

“Our hands were so sore from our first session that neither of us could press the power button on our phones. That’s how much it hurts. We physically couldn’t squeeze enough to turn our phones off,” said Paley.

Photo by Sydney Pearce

Photo by Sydney Pearce

Many sources rumor that rock climbing can become addicting with overuse, but these two thought differently.

“Rock climbing is one of those things where you do it once, and you’re just hooked forever. It’s just a habit. If we don’t know what to do we go rock climbing. We have memberships now, so it doesn’t cost us anything to go. We go so often that we have exceeded the value of our memberships, so the gym is just losing money on us,” said Paley.

“You get so into it. Instead of going and saying, ‘Oh, I’m bored, so let’s go to the movies and sit on our butts for an hour and a half,’ we go rock climbing and end up getting an amazing workout out of it,” said Pereira.

“The good thing is, I’ll never truly get addicted to it because it hurts my hands so much. I can’t get addicted to something that can rip my hands open if you do it wrong,” said Paley.

The two students also indulge in forms of entertainment that involve rock climbing.

“We watch rock climbing videos on YouTube now. There’s this Norwegian guy on Youtube, Magnus Midtbø, who makes cool climbing videos. He’s so strong it’s insane. We wanna go see the movie ‘Free Solo’ which is about this guy named Alex Hannold who climbed El Capitan without a harness or ropes or anything to support him,” said Pereira.

“After we started rock climbing for a bit and we saw that we were actually kind of good at it, we decided that we’re going to take a summer trip to Yosemite and go climbing in the wild,” said Paley.

They also gave some information on the difficulty grading of routes on the walls.

“There’s a decimal system for rock climbing, called the Yosemite decimals system. The first part of the decimal is always a five because five means ‘vertical’ in climbing lingo. The numbers on the other side of the decimal can go up to 15, each different scaling for difficulty,” said Pereira.

Photo by Sydney Pearce

“Like we usually do 5.10s. Within that bracket, there are A’s, B’s, C’s, and D’s for subsections of the difficulty. Kyle and I can climb 5.10 B’s around 70 percent of the time, depending on our arm, toe, and grip strength that day. There’s a huge difference between bouldering and rock climbing. Rock climbing is when you have a rope and a belayer holding you up and catching you if you fall so that the walls can be extremely high and dangerous without many repercussions. While bouldering, you don’t have a rope and it’s a lot shorter, because you can fall on your neck or back and hurt yourself a lot. Bouldering is much harder,” said Paley.

“The bouldering rating system is based on ‘Vs. So it ranges from V-0 to V-17, and it gets harder and harder when you go up. The thing is though, V-1s are hard, like almost undoable by us,” said Pereira.

“In fairness, Vertex is infamous in a thing called ‘sandbagging’ which means rating routes harder than they are in other gyms. Some other terms are only really understood by climbers and boulderers. There’s ‘smearing,’ where you don’t have a foothold, and you have to use the wall, corners, or cracks to get up the wall. You have to use the friction of the wall,” said Paley.

The seniors also spoke of the hardships involved with climbing and the potential for injury.

“My least favorite thing is climbing on an overhang because my arms get pumped easily, and my legs don’t get to work,” said Paley.

“My least favorite thing about rock climbing is when I watch Mark do something easily that I can’t do because he’s got all that extra reach. All of the super hard 5.10s that he can do, and I can’t make me feel bad. There are a couple of walls in the gym that make you do the splits, and it’s ridiculous. I am horribly inflexible. I can’t even touch my toes. And Mark is just a noodle,” said Pereira.

“I feel like my height doesn’t benefit me at all! In bouldering especially, it makes it infinitely harder because you have to crunch yourself into a ball to start the routes and continue to crunch until the end of the route. With legs as long as mine, it’s almost impossible,” said Paley.

Photo by Sydney Pearce

To end off their conversation, they both briefed their future in rock climbing with the impending futures in college.

“Almost all of the colleges I applied to have a rock wall in their gym, so I’ll just use those until I can find a climbing gym nearby,” said Paley.

“Same with me,” said Pereira, “I want to continue doing it because it’s some of the best exercises I’ve ever done, and it’s very entertaining because the routes always switch.”