Why I climb:
There are a couple of ways I can approach this post…
Way number one:
“I climb because it is the corporeal expression of a spiritual connection with the earth…”
This would be the most abstract perspective, making me sound deep and thoughtful.
Way number two:
“I climb because I enjoy the mental challenge. Climbing forces me to focus my often racing mind, and tests my creativity as I encounter each obstacle and crux.”
This would make me sound smart, and a bit tortured.
Way number three:
“I climb because it’s the most complete form of exercise I know of. It requires core strength, balance, arm, back and leg strength – the whole package – all in one sport!”
This would make me seem like an infomercial at 3am on a Tuesday.
“I climb because I love the gear. I love the smell of new (and old) gear, I love the colors and the noise it makes when you move it around. I love packing it and cleaning it. I love that my closet is full of it in glorious rows and shelves and hooks.”
This would make me sound like nearly every other climber out there.
Really it’s all of those things, but much more, it’s because of the people. There is something unique about the climber. It could be the smell, but mostly it’s the attitude. Their approach to life is a weird balance of caution and abandon: a healthy dose of calculated risk and an equally generous helping of balls. They come from all walks of life: they are businessmen and women, retailers, writers, photographers, and scientists.
Yet are all similarly satisfied with beer and pizza and a warm campfire. I’m proud to be part of a sport where everyone is so eager to share with “outsiders.” It’s rare to find a climber who shuns or discourages those who want to give it a try. More often they will over share their enthusiasm with hours of stories and gear recommendations. A friend said: “Give me a rope, a newbie and a sunny crag and I’ll give you a climber by the end of the day.” It’s true – that’s all it takes to communicate our passion. Every climber I’ve met is a teacher in a way as well, be it with a patient belay or by passing on a new technique. No one is selfish with knowledge, but rather it’s the knowledge shared that makes our community so close.
A climber can travel for days to the middle of nowhere and chances are they will run into friends. I’ve made a habit of finding new places to climb while on travel for work. On my first trip to San Francisco I met three lovely women and spent the day bouldering on Stinson Beach. We clicked instantly. The four of us so vastly different, never having met before, brought together effortlessly that day. I’ve climbed with people in California, Florida, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and New York. No matter where I go, an ATC, shoes and a harness are all it takes to open doors and arms. I’ve had my greatest adventures with climbers, and made them my dearest friends.
So even though I may spend hours color coding my gear and studying reviews, even though I may enjoy reading up on the newest technique or inspiring send, even though I may never climb 5.12, or be on the cover of Rock and Ice, that’s ok. That’s not why I climb.