Monday, November 3, 2008

Climbing with hornets

I went climbing on Saturday with some friends locally - a place where you can climb for a half day or so and then you're done. It has some great climbs so it's definitely fun to go to. And easy easy access.

Well, there were many bugs flying around the rocks. Ladybugs and what I just looked up and found out to be hornets.

Ladybugs. You may think, aw, how nice, but if so you have never climbed in the fall when they start swarming. And you've never had one bite you. It doesn't hurt ALL that much, but it's a bite nonetheless. So you swear at them and swat them away.

But hornets. Ladybugs are much less scary looking. Holy crap. Noone really knew what they were, but they didn't SEEM interested in stinging. For my third climb, I did this one route with a big big overhang - burly. The scariest part for me though was the first 3 bolts on the vertical wall, down where the hornets were. I kept having to say to myself 'it will all be ok' to convince myself that it would be so I could start the climb. And it was. And I completed the climb, with a few rests.

The next climb I top-roped. My burly-does-my-plumbing-friend had led a mixed route that was 11a (mixed=bolts and gear). I had never done it before so really really wanted to do it. Thing is, the wall was hornet land. And they would go in and out the rock - landing on what could be your next handhold. It didn't matter to me that everyone else said that they weren't interested in stinging. It didn't matter to me that one guy said he put his hand on two and they didn't sting. It didn't matter to me that it looked like they were mating and more interested in that (see below ** for verification of this). I was fucking freaked out. I swear to god it was on par with jumping out of an airplane for me.

I made it past the first roof - I was climbing really well. And then a nice ledge and you start up a wall where all the hornets were. I stood there while some flew around me. One even buzzed my ear. Each time they came close I'd either flinch or scream. Most of my friends know about my screaming when I fall or around bugs so they kinda just laughed at me. I didn't know if I could even start it, but I did, and did NOT put my hand on one. As I climbed I had to with every move overcome the fear.

Finally I fell due to a hard move. And as the hornets flew around, I looked down and said, I can't do this. Not because of the climbing, but the mental stress of overcoming my hornet fear. He just looked at me and told me to wait for the break (they'd kinda go in waves). So, since I hated the idea of giving up due to bugs and I really wanted to try the climb, I continued. Fell once or twice again, but did the climb.

And I was toast. I did another climb on another wall that didn't have that many hornets at all. But then there was another hard climb my friend and my ex had put up, and I really wanted to do it. I tied in, and went up to the first ledge. And the hornets buzzed around. And I realized mentally I was just DONE. Physically I could have done it, because I was strong that day, but mentally, kaput geworden. I untied and stepped down. And felt like shit, but also ok with not putting myself through the terror. Which it was for me, especially given my semi-fragile mental state - terrifying.

Anyway, that was my day. I did have fun, believe it or not. But I'm being nice to myself and not biking home today, because I just don't feel like it. Sometimes it's good to just say No.

***
Adult males do not participate in nest maintenance, foraging, or caretaking of the larvae. In early to mid-autumn they leave the nest and mate during "nuptial flights". Males die shortly after mating. The workers and queens survive at most until mid to late autumn; only the fertilized queens survive over winter.

8 comments:

Tara said...

That's a scary-looking photo there of the hornet. You probably don't want to support the sports teams of my college...I think our team is called the BW Yellow Jackets. More bees. Ick.

The CEO said...

I think you wanted a slice of pizza far away from you for the hornets to congregate on so they weren't anywhere near you? Best practices?

Mrs. Hairy Woman said...

You are a brave girl.. I wouldn't even have attempted to climb knowing there were hornets..Glad you made the climb..

Mel said...

k.....I was panicked just reading it.

And I really don't fear the bugs...... Might NOW though. LOL

You poor thing....

Churlita said...

I hate hornets and wasps. I would be totally stressed.

I know I always say this, but I always wish I liked climbing when I read your posts, but I really only like forms of exercise where you don't have to think, like running, swimming and biking.

laura b. said...

Whenever you post about your climbs I am dumbstruck with admiration. My fear of heights not to mention what climbing, through bugs would do to my head...thank goodness for bloggers through whom I can live vicariously.

NoRegrets said...

Tara, yeah. And they are like an inch and a half long.

CEO - um, there were really a TON of them and they were more interested in mating than eating.

Mrs., thanks.

Mel - sorry to induce fear!

Churlita, well, yeah, that makes sense. You do need to think, but it clears out everything else. I find if I'm biking or running shit from my day/life still goes through my head.

Laura, happy to be of service! :-)

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