I have a lot of friends who began rock climbing in college and they went on any and every outdoor adventure they could. But, for me, climbing never interested me until well into adulthood. Climbing made me nervous. Was I strong enough? I could not then and still cannot do a pull-up. What if it’s too hard? What if I’m terrible? Negative thought after negative thought kept me from ever trying it out. And at this point, some of my climber friends had also moved to prettier and more adventurous states. It took my brother moving to Colorado and getting into rock climbing to convince me to give it a real shot. And I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it ever since.
Rock climbing, you say? Climbing is a sport where you’re traversing up a rock, real or artificial. There are a few different types of climbing: bouldering, top rope, lead, and trad. Bouldering consists of short routes that you don’t need a harness or ropes for. Top rope climbing is when you are attached to a rope that has an anchor at the top, with someone belaying you, and is considered to be very safe. Sport climbing or lead climbing is a more advanced technique where the person climbing clips into the wall as their support system as they climb. Finally, there is trad climbing, which requires the climber to put their own gear into the rock to attach their rope into (which honestly is terrifying)!
When I began climbing a little over a year ago, I was no stranger to the gym. I was doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes at one gym and lifting at another, but was I really about to add a third gym membership to the rotation? Cardio has always been something I have dreaded…hence why group cardio settings were there to push me. But did I enjoy doing it? I mean I wish I was one of those crazy people who *actually* loved cardio, but sadly I don’t think that will ever be a reality. Although I enjoy my three weightlifting sessions per week, it felt and still feels like work. I mean it is hard fucking work! I bust my ass to lift heavy things, and it makes me feel strong. But, it’s hard work. It’s something I do by myself, to better myself.
So, that’s where climbing came in for me. I was stronger then I thought. And it was easier to pull my body up these crazy tall walls than I thought. And climbing was super fun! It was hard, but it didn’t feel like work, the way all of the other exercise up to this point in my life had. It was something that was more social. I needed a partner to top rope or to lead climb. Someone is watching your back when you climb, and you watch theirs on the flip side. Climbing is inherently dangerous. There’s a lot of trust that goes into climbing with another person, but it was thrilling. It was different, and it was fun and social.
I became enthralled with rock climbing. Bouldering was fun, too, but the other types of climbing really captured my interest. There was something about being so high up that I really enjoyed. It spiked my adrenaline, and I was hooked, even though I was and am still battling my weight… always trying to be leaner. I was seeing all these super lean and strong people crushing it at the climbing gym. I was strong, but I was thick. I still am thick. It’s something I am constantly working on. And climbing is not a sport that you can be great at if you are heavy. It requires using all of your strength to pull all your weight up, and the more weight you have to pull up, the harder you gotta push. So, I’ve had my ups and downs with climbing. I lost weight and was crushing hard at the gym. I gained weight and regressed. It can be so disheartening knowing that you used to be able to climb harder grades and knowing that you just can’t do it anymore. But, I’ve learned to persevere despite the fact that I could be so much better right now. And I can still be hard on myself, but at the end of the day, I still love it. And even when friends around me are starting to climb harder then me, I’m still going. Why? Because even if I’m not as light as I was or as strong as I was before, I’m still pushing myself. I’m still crushing climbs, and I’m still making new friends. I’m getting to go climb outside on occasion (which is super scary). I’m growing as a person. I’m learning how to strategize better to find the best beta (aka info about how to complete the climb or certain parts of it). Climbing is like a giant, intense puzzle. Climbing is just as much a mind game as it is an intense body workout, and I’m working through my fear of falling after having taken hard falls.
And because of all those reasons, I’ve found a sport I love. A sport that I struggle with. A sport that I want to improve in. I’ve learned that it’s okay to push yourself, but on the other hand, it’s fine to know your limits. I’ve learned that sometimes you feel great for a while, and sometimes you regress for a while, and that’s okay, too. Sometimes, I’m super hard on myself, but it’s all just a part of the process. Climbing has ultimately helped change my life for the better. If you’ve never given climbing a try, I’d highly recommend it. It’s a blast! Peace and love.