Climbing is addictive.
If you’ve ever spoken to a climber before, you’ll see what I mean.
If you ask them anything about climbing, their eyes will light up and you’ll witness the unravelling of that cognitive process where they’ll be unable to stop thinking about climbing for the next few hours.
If you’ve never been climbing before, you might not see what all the fuss is about. “What’s so addictive about climbing rocks?” you might say.
The thing is, climbing is something which goes far beyond the activity itself. Climbing brings you to the peak of your physical and mental fitness in a way which no other activity can.
This is because when you climb, you use the full potential of your body and mind, pushing them to the absolute limit.
For gym-goers and fitness freaks: climbing trains all of the muscles you currently train but with a far greater range of motion. Not only that, but climbing uses all of the little muscles, ligaments and tendons that you never knew you even had.
Even if you’ve trained in the gym for years, you’ll be absolutely destroyed after your first time climbing.
For people who like meditation: climbing is a activity which brings you into a state of full concentration. It trains your focus, and requires a precision of hand-eye coordination that is only possible in the state of flow.
Even if you have a short attention span, climbing will bring out your inner zen master.
For people who are simply looking into climbing as a way to relieve stress after work: when you start climbing, you’ll be thinking of nothing else but the route. Everything else fades away.
Even if you have the most stressful of jobs, with climbing, you’ll always find a release.
And these are just some of the personal benefits of taking up climbing. I’m only just getting started.
The Social Side of Climbing
Climbing has an enormous social aspect that cannot be underestimated.
In bouldering, you’re going to be surrounded by other climbers, and whenever you’re not climbing, you’re going to be passed out on the mats in exhaustion.
This is the time when bouldering is at its most social. Bouldering has a downtime where you can kick back and relax with friends, before heading right in for another go at that route you were so close to finishing.
There is a sense of camaraderie between climbers, and you’ll really feel it. Climbing is fundamentally social, and the experience is nothing like being in a gym.
If you come with friends, you’ll be taking turns at the same route. If you come with friends who are at different levels of experience, you’ll all be in the same area, tackling the same walls in turn, because the routes are set over each other on the same wall.
What this means is that more advanced climbers will be taking more difficult routes, while beginners will be taking the routes that they can handle, and so everyone will be able to tackle the same wall at their own level.
Because of this, you’ll never feel excluded while on a climbing session. There aren’t any super elite areas that you can’t go in.
You can try anything you’re comfortable with, and you’ll have plenty of fun pushing your limits. There’s no shame or danger in falling, and people quickly realize this on their first time.
In rock climbing, whether indoor or outdoor, you’ll have a friend holding your rope and encouraging you to keep pushing your limits.
Rock climbing is essentially a teamwork activity, and it tends to feel like you’re working together on project when you go regularly. You’ll both be engaged in the same activity, and you’ll feel invested in your friends’ success.
That’s why it’s sometimes called “projecting a line.”
“But what makes climbing so fun?” you might ask. I’ve covered the personal benefits and social aspect of it, but I haven’t yet said what is so fun about climbing itself.
Why Climbing is So Fun
Climbing is simple. It’s you, pitted against the route.
All you have to do is overcome the challenge, and that is where the fun lies.
Climbing makes you think. You’ll look at a bouldering problem, and try to come up with a strategy of how to tackle it.
This is especially true at the higher levels.
You’ll try, fail, and try again… but when you finally make it in the end, there’s no better feeling.
It’s like a wave satisfaction washes over you.
And that is something you’d never get at a gym.
The great thing about climbing is that you can get this aspect of it, while still getting the best workout of your life.
Besides, you can see your progression so easily in climbing. As you tackle each problem you’ll see just how much you’ve improved.
Most people look at climbing and think it looks easy.
They look at an indoor climber gripping onto a yellow hold for dear life and think, “Why aren’t they just using that purple hold right there?” …But then comes the magic moment when they realize they can’t just use any hold they like. The color matters.
Their faces suddenly contort with confusion, and finally settle with a look of intrigue.
The addiction has begun.