You take a deep breath. One hand is on a crimp, one is on a pinch. The next hold seems too far. Was this route made for tall people? Breathe in, breathe out. You lunge for the next hold. And, you miss. Sighing in frustration, you start to ask yourself, why do I climb anyways?
There isn’t a simple answer.
Climbing can seem scary, dangerous, and crazy. When you walk into the gym and see people flying off of a bouldering wall without a harness or rope attached to them, or when you glance up to see 40 foot walls towering over you, the question probably goes through your head, “what is the point of all of this?”
To take it back to the basics – it’s fun. Humans are primates, climbing is in our DNA. Take kids for example – they love to climb all over jungle gyms, trees, and exciting places. As we’ve evolved, climbing has become unnecessary, therefore it’s turned into something we do by choice. Some people have made that choice and some haven’t. But have you ever met someone who tried climbing once and hated it? Probably not. It is inherently fun for almost everyone.
So yeah, climbing is fun. But what else does it offer? Climbing can be looked at as a form of meditation. When you see someone at the top of a wall, “meditation” probably isn’t the first thing to pop in your head. Isn’t meditation something you do in a dark room, by yourself, rewarding yourself with a bottle of kombucha afterwards? Doesn’t meditation need to be calming, quiet, and relaxing? But, climbing offers these things – just in a different manner. When you’re on the wall, it’s just you, your feet, and the rocks. You’re by yourself up there, and you’re thinking, you’re sweating, and you’re focused. No matter how challenging the route is, when you’re on the wall, you are with yourself – in the most calming way possible.
Another thing about climbing – the community. The climbing community is so different from anything you’ve ever experienced. Climbing is about friendships, belay-tionships, and group trips to the nearby bouldering field. It is an intimidating thing to climb an easy route next to the hardest route in the gym, but that is the point. Everyone is there to cheer each other on, and everyone has to start somewhere. People in the gym want to encourage you, and they want to work together on figuring problems out. Making friends in the gym is easy, just ask someone for their beta.
One more added bonus to climbing is the exercise! Let’s face it – lifting weights and running on the treadmill can seem mundane for some of us. Climbing may just seem like strength thing, but there is some cardio aspect to it as well. It works out your core by challenging you to keep your body close to the wall and give you balance. It exercises your arms and legs, glutes, and back through moving from one hold to the next. It keeps you flexible, it raises your heart rate, and it tests your endurance. It requires a whole body effort and uses muscles you didn’t know you had. Climbing is one of the best mixes of adrenaline and adventure, and it is perfect for a workout.
Climbing is clearly more than a hobby. It’s a lifestyle, but it’s one you’ll love. It does take dedication and practice – you have to learn technique, terminology, and the types of climbing. But once you give it one or two tries you are bound to be hooked.
So, why climbing?
It’s fun, it’s a great community, it’s exercise, it’s meditation, it’s whatever you want to make it for yourself. It is getting to the top of a wall, it is conquering your next grade, it is making new friends.
Climbing is the incredible feeling you get when you know you’ve done it.