“I have been climbing for as long as I can remember”. I wish I could say this about myself just like Alex Honnold, who became the first person to climb El Capitan ropeless. Trust me the gods felt powerless when they saw him climb.
I was introduced to the world of rock climbing six months back on a date. I enjoyed it so much that I joined my university’s rock climbing club. Honestly, that’s the best thing that happened to me. It was my escape. A place, where I could focus on myself and be disconnected from all my problems. Rock climbing is not just a hippie sport, it has so much more to it than just providing pictures of shirtless men with ripped bodies on the rocks overlooking a vast blue ocean (TBH, I am not complaining).
In her piece, In Climbing as in Life, NYC cartoonist Connie Sun says: “One aspect of climbing is holding on with all of your strength. The other side, just as essential, is learning to let go to begin again”. Yes, letting go is as important as going up. It gives you a chance to start again; the same way you do in real life, except letting go is much easier in climbing than in actual life.
When I first started climbing I was terrible at it, but the consistent motivation from the community helped me climb beyond the overhang of one of the easiest climbs. That was my first successful climb. I did that. After that, climbing became a constant in my life. I climbed week after week and got better at it. Now, I can do climbs the shirtless guys excel at. But, I am not done yet, because better is never enough in the rock climbing world. You can never reach your full potential because each climb is different and would require a different strategy.
The best part about rock climbing is that it keeps you grounded which is ironic because you’re off the ground most of the times. The climbing community is the second best part, because they motivate you and help you constantly to reach your goal. Imagine being on the rocks 15 meters off the ground and not being able to find a foothold to make that ascend and other climbers who are on the ground shouting “C’mon you can do it” or “You got it girl” and you magically find a foothold. That’s the power of the climbing community – constant motivation and belief in each other. There are no rivals here. You can only rival your own progression.
To top this off I’ll list the vanity that comes with getting into a sport like rock climbing; piqued interest from non-climbers when you tell them that you rock climb, insane photo opportunities while climbing outdoors, cool climbing gear and shoes that could rival pointe shoes, new friends (because let’s be honest it’s hard to make friends once you leave high school) and a newfound cool persona.
Words by Forum Bakrania