After filling several pages of my sketchbook yesterday with gestural sketches of martial artists and dancers at the Tacoma Dome, I got to fill several additional pages this morning with more – this time of climbers at Seattle Bouldering Project. A practice facility for rock climbers as well as a recreational venue on its own, Seattle Bouldering offers two floors of colorful artificial mountains for climbers of all skill levels. It was a fun and challenging outing for Seattle Urban Sketchers!
I warmed up on the lower level where very young children – one still wearing Pull-Ups! – were climbing as quickly and fearlessly as monkeys. After a page of trying to make my pen keep up with those squirrels, I decided I was ready to take a wider view. I went upstairs to the top level overlooking the tallest boulders, where more advanced climbers carefully chose toeholds and handholds to work themselves up to the highest points. Even though I knew the foot-thick cushioned floor would break their falls if they faltered, I still felt my heart quickening with sympathetic apprehension. After a while, my own upper-body muscles started to ache as I knew theirs would be. Sketch after sketch, I gained appreciation for the amount of sheer strength and agility necessary to cling to a vertical surface. Spiders we were not meant to be – though many that I sketched today came as close to being spiders as I’ve seen.
Before it was time to share with the group, I got my fill of dozens more one-second gestural sketches – the kind of exercise I can handle!