It’s always funny to hear people’s reactions to the idea of doing an extreme sport that has never appealed to them. From triathlons and backpacking to rock climbing, snowboarding and skydiving, there are a wide range of reasons people have for wanting to participate in these sports. And on the reverse, there are quite a few reasons others would never want to have that experience. So here is an open letter to all those who may be thinking, “Rock climbing…no way that sounds enjoyable! Why would I ever want to do that?”
Dear Non Climber,
Face value of climbing may lack a certain sense of appeal to you, and I totally get that. Because of perceived risks, the level of difficulty, and the amount of effort with only an ambiguous reward, I can see why it may not be the most desirable activity. I won’t give you a top five list of why everyone should be a rock climber, but I will give you the one reason that has kept me climbing over the years.
Early in my climbing experience, I had an impactful experience that I now routinely seek after. I was working my way up a route I had tangled with a few times in the past and each time the route had got the best of our exchanges. As always, I began the climb by telling myself that this time would be different.
Everything progressed really well until I reached a dreaded stretch of near impossible holds that had always beat me. Faster than would seem possible, the strength in my forearms began to drain. I had rehearsed the movements and knew what was necessary to pass this section, but still I became aware that I was reaching the point of failure, again. Even though I knew from previous experience how this was about to end, I kept trying.
I was mentally set on success this time and had determined that I would give everything until my muscles failed and I fell from the rock, not by choice but by force. I began squeezing the right hand hold with everything I had left. Heaving upwards with my left hand, I reached for the next hold. My legs shook with the effort to hold me steady and panic was just on the edge of breaking through. But somehow, this time, I didn’t fall.
After learning to accept defeat at the hands of this route, I had finally succeeded. I was past the previously impossible spot. The wave of feeling that accompanied this triumph was amazing—sheer joy and empowerment. I had walked that narrow edge of failure and broke through to the other side.
Being so close to failing and instead succeeding is one of the most amazing feelings I’ve found. It’s what draws me back to the rock face each time I go. There’s always a slightly harder route to conquer, and there’s always that knowledge that I may not have what it takes to beat it. But sometimes, sometimes I do have it. And that is why I climb.
St. George Climber
Everyone has a passion in life and a wide range of reasons for being passionate about it. Do you love rock climbing? Have you ever given it a try? It may not be for you, and that’s okay. You don’t have to fall in love with climbing like St. George Climber has, but there is always a new adventure to be had and something new to try. Keep exploring and finding ways to enjoy the amazing natural world around you.