(Patrick Gensel of Camp The Sum­mit talks about the com­mu­ni­ty, chal­lenges, and gear that keeps him climb­ing in the first of our “Why I…” blog series.)

Climbing With Purpose

For me, spend­ing time out­side with great peo­ple is one of the biggest draws to climb­ing. It seems that there is such a sol­id sense of com­mu­ni­ty sur­round­ing climb­ing. One thing that made this clear was the recent event I attend­ed at the New Riv­er Gorge in West Vir­ginia. The New Riv­er Ren­dezvous was a 3‑day gath­er­ing of near­ly a thou­sand peo­ple who all had at least one thing in com­mon: their love of climb­ing. Every­one was so kind and sup­port­ive of one anoth­er that it real­ly made me proud to be part of the com­mu­ni­ty. Climb­ing celebs such as Chris Shar­ma and Lynn Hill were seen just mix­ing in with the every­day climbers and hav­ing a good time — no over-inflat­ed egos seen here at all.

The sec­ond part of my climb­ing addic­tion are the chal­lenges, both men­tal and phys­i­cal, which test us as human beings. Through climb­ing I have learned a sound skill in risk assess­ment. Siz­ing up every climb before doing it and assess­ing the dan­ger, com­ing up with a per­son­al accept­able lev­el of risk and see­ing how that stacks up against any giv­en route. Of course there are those cir­cum­stances where you may step out­side of your com­fort zone mid-climb, which can be thrilling and ter­ri­fy­ing in the same breath. This is where I find myself block­ing every­thing out except the climb — all I see is the next move, all I hear are my thoughts. This helps me to safe­ly and effec­tive­ly pull through a dif­fi­cult and excep­tion­al­ly men­tal­ly chal­leng­ing sec­tion of a climb, and of course when it all comes down to it, know­ing when to back off is admirable and impor­tant as well.

Climb­ing “New Riv­er Gunks” at New Riv­er Gorge in West Virginia

The final ele­ment of my climb­ing lust is the gear. I con­sid­er myself quite a gear head, and in climb­ing there is no short­age of nec­es­sary equip­ment. This is espe­cial­ly true of Trad climb­ing. Col­lect­ing and main­tain­ing all the pieces nec­es­sary for an enjoy­able and safe climb for me is quite excit­ing. This love of gear stems from a “need to know how every­thing works” mind­set. By exper­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent types of belay devices and pro­tec­tion I gath­er a diverse under­stand­ing of how the equip­ment works which I believe is impor­tant to improve safety.

For those of you who have not had the plea­sure of explor­ing the world of rock climb­ing, I encour­age you to give it a try, you may just find your­self a new addiction.


You can check out Patrick on his site Camp the Sum­mit and on Face­book. You can also fol­low Patrick on Twit­ter.

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