Climbing is my latest love. After a false start last year I’m now head over heels for the sport. In fact I think sport does it an injustice, it’s almost a way of life. It has an addictive quality I haven’t really encountered before in the many, many activities I’ve tried, convinced that each new one will be the one that I finally excel at. I love this video, it really sums a lot of things up.
The irony is that I certainly don’t excel at climbing (not yet anyway) and maybe I never will but it sort of doesn’t seem to matter. In a manner that may be familiar to people who have read previously about how much I also love cycling I’m going to give you a quick literary tour of why I love scaling high things so much!
It’s sociable – climbing without someone holding the other end of the rope in some form is fairly dangerous and certainly far away from being compatible with the skill set I currently have. Therefore to climb you need ‘climbing friends’. These are often a different gang to your regular friends who for whatever reason might not really like the idea of climbing. ‘Climbing friends’ are easily found through lots and lots of clubs throughout the UK. Some of the people I have met through climbing are definitely now friends that no longer need the ‘climbing’ prefix and that makes going for a climb and win-win situation, sociable and super fun along with all the other benefits listed below.
Climbing is an all weather gift that keeps on giving – indoors or outdoors, rain or shine (shine definitely preferable), summer or winter, night or day there is a climb for you. Indoors is great, rock up (excuse the unintentional pun), shoes and harness on and off you go. You can improve your skill level quickly with minimum of faff and remove a few of the more dynamic elements to climbing. However outdoor climbing is where the fun ratchets up a few notches. Now not only are you getting to climb you are also getting to spend time outdoors, often with sweeping vistas to accompany your achievements in places you perhaps otherwise wouldn’t visit.
Leading on from the above, if you’re climbing outdoors you get to collect KIT. Particularly if you start to learn to climb trad (putting in your own gear or ‘protection’). To the geek within us all there is little more satisfying in life that finding just the right bit of gear for the right crack, nook or crannie. With a little bit of skill and experience suddenly a whole world of possibility opens up with the prospect of climbing on big walls all over the globe. (This video is BONKERS, never say never but I’m not sure my climbing story is going to take me quite to this level)
Climbing is good for body and soul – climbing is a full workout, a hard climb takes your breath away (literally), your muscles are trembling from exertion but beyond this there is also a clarity and peace to be gained mentally. It’s pretty hard to think of the troubles of the day when you’re concentrating on where you might put your foot or hand on the next move. Reaching the top of something that you looked at and may have recently thought ‘there’s no way I’ll get up that’ is a feeling like no other. Pushing our boundaries and finding out that we are capable of far more than we first thought is a life affirming feeling; one that is supremely addictive.
Now if that hasn’t wet your appetite for possibly the best outdoor activity there is out there I don’t know what will…. Find your local wall now and make that first step, if you only climb indoors find some ‘outdoor climbing friends’, if you climb outdoors find a bigger wall! The sky’s the limit.
Check out this post and keep a look out for the next Arc’teryx #bigmountainweekend whether you’ve never climbed before or are looking to move to independent multipitch routes.
Finally; a reflective piece on climbing 3 years on from when this page was first written.