(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.
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.
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