Love on the Rocks

Rock Climbers and Why It’s So Cool to Climb

I like to call the sport, art, passion and the yearning to climb the original anti-gravity experience. Three things are at play. There is gravity, the weight of the climber’s being, and finally the interface to bring the first two forces together.

Climbing combines many of the great metaphors for life because it’s all about efforting upwards, climbing to a new plateau, getting to the mountain top (and we all know there are many paths to the mountain top), choosing the path of least resistance, it’s not the arrival it’s the going.…

There is a purity about climbing that attracts the noblest aspects of us. It’s simple in definition: climb, upwards. But it’s infinite in expression of how to do it and the places and time to do it in. It fully involves the individual’s senses, effort, intention and ability. All these are improvable aspects of our nature. So it’s an unlimited activity with no boundaries of expression. The climber is always in a dance with the first and foremost element, gravity. The earthly dance we all embrace since birth but brought to new expression and awareness in climbing. Climbing becomes a performance piece of art for one - the climber. The climber’s buddies may applaud the crux move (the difficult pivotal moment of the route one’s climbing) but it is only the climber in the moment, facing the consequences of failure when gravity wins over technique and effort.

I believe it’s the consequences of climbing that is the ultimate fundamental of why people climb. If the climber doesn’t learn to use the gear and rope correctly to protect future chances… you will only have to fall once. Because if you don’t do it right, you fall. Period. If there wasn’t any element of falling/failing then what would be the point? It would then be an activity on par with lying in bed or sitting. Not very demanding and quite safe.

But people are born for expansion and achievement, a yearning for betterment and expression. Make it too easy, and interest is lost. Make it too hard and nobody will gain the confidence and the experience of growth. Climbing has the ability for anyone to meet themselves in a here-and-now expression of effort, no matter the level. We grow inside ourselves when we can just learn to attain the next upward fixed point on the rock face.

Climbing attracts all types of people. Great numbers of engineers and pragmatic souls come to climbing to express their ability to blend problem solving with movement. Romantics, who yearn for the essence of true life experience that blends danger with achievement, leaving the low-land modern mindset of safety and assurance behind to depend only on their gear, their willingness to stretch their soul and the acceptance of the possibility of failure. It’s an adventure every time one climbs, no matter if it’s in the newly prolific rock climbing gyms or the face of Everest. Climbers are usually not great golfers…the titillation of hitting a little ball into a small cup hundreds of yards away doesn’t offer the same rewards or wholesome demands that climbing offers. But, people being who they are, I’m sure that if the two sports could be combined there would be a market.

So for all of us, climbers or not, we applaud the beauty of vertical effort. Because every time we see someone climb, we are carried upwards with them, innately knowing and inspired to find ourselves ever higher, ever enjoying the endless achievement of moving through time and life, one motion, one consequential choice at a time. In that sense, we are all climbers dancing with time and gravity, heading upwards.

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