Me and Berni (one of my climbing buddies) on a 6a route “Friends with benefits” in De Uithof, Hague, The Netherlands. This route was a lot of fun. It was about climbing in a tandem and helping each other to get up.
I started climbing few years ago and the way I got to climbing is because of my friend’s funny story on how his girlfriend would jump up during belaying him when he would fall off. It sounded quite fun and exciting so one Sunday I said to my boyfriend let’s go and try climbing.
It was the first time we both climbed and, at least for me, quite scary to go up the wall and trust my belayer and equipment holding me. We had the instructor guiding us, explaining how things work and looking after that we did everything properly. But my first route I didn’t finish. I stopped half way feeling quite overwhelmed. We managed to climb few more routes after though and that’s how I started my experience with climbing.
After I joined the group of my friends who already were climbing for a little while and even I was quite scared to finish up a 4 or 5a at that time, the fun evenings, nice discussions and learning from each other is what attracted me to keep going and practice. And I’m very glad that I did because it helped me to discover climbing which otherwise I would have never tried.
When I would tell other people that I’m climbing, many would say that it is not for them. Common answers are either that they tried and it was scary or they felt that they are not so good at it. People also mentioned that they are scared of heights so would not dare to climb. Actually I need to admit you that I’m afraid of heights and falling every time when I go back to gym. Those first routes to warm up, to get used to height, rope and equipment holding me, are the most anxious. It takes me time to get confidence in me and the equipment to be able to relax and focus on my climb. I more enjoy second half of the evening when I have climbed already for an hour.
But here’s why I like this hobby so much and I think it is worth trying it:
In climbing you are two persons working together – a climber and a belayer. A belayer is a person securing a climber during the climb. Unless you are solo climbing (climbing without belaying and ropes) you will need someone securing you. That creates a great opportunity to discover this sport together with your friends or to meet new people in your local climbing gym.
Climbing with other people helps you to learn new skills and techniques and get better at your climbing game. It is still individual sport since you perform on your own, but with your friends by your side, you have a great support system – cheering, advising and kicking your butt when it is needed.
If you feel that climbing is a bit too scary due to heights, try bouldering. It is a climbing on relatively lower walls (about 3-4 m) without ropes and belayers. But you have mattresses below to catch the fall. And often you can jump down from the route. Bouldering is also a great way to meet people or spend time with your friends. You can help each other on different bouldering problems, support, cheer and learn from each other.
After a training session, it is nice to sit together, have a drink and celebrate good achievements :-).
Learning new skills
Climbing together with other people helps to learn new skills and techniques. We all are different and each person has their favorite routes and holds we are the best at. But we can improve by observing each other and learning new approach by seeing a fellow climber dealing with problem where we could not manage. And when next time trying, it gets easier.
I’m climbing together with group of great guys and girls and from each of them I learn something different. All girls in our group are quite a similar build so we often deal with similar challenges: like missing extra 5 cm to reach that far away hold or struggle with holds where you have to pull your self up. And that’s nice to learn from each other – if one manages then rest can too. We can help each other with ideas on how to move the body to get to that next hold. Also from guys I learn about ways of approaching different problems but since they are slightly taller, some things they can reach slightly better.
What I learned from our guys is daring. Even when I feel quite tired and wanna give up, I see how guys are pushing and I try too. It is about not giving up when you feel like it but push until you are too tired to continue and you did all you can to finish the route. Not always it happens for 100% though and my friends would say I push less then I could actually, but comparing to some time ago I have started to dare more and that makes me more satisfied with my climbing evening.
Improving self confidence
In climbing you are on your own on the wall. How far you get depends on your strength, endurance, mindset and ability to find the way. Therefore every new route you can manage, new skill you master, new challenge you are able to deal with, gives a proud and satisfying feeling for what you have achieved and what you actually are capable of. Climbing for me discovered that I can do more than I think I can. I often don’t realize that actually I can climb quite good. And of course there are new levels to work on but realizing those little achievements is rewarding. And that is what also gives motivation and confidence to go forward.
Keeping you in a good shape
When you climb regularly after a while you will notice that your hands and fingers get stronger and your arms start to have a nice shape with developed muscles. In climbing gym there are different routes and each has their benefit for the body. Some focus more on balance, some on stamina, some on stronger arms and fingers and all together bring benefit for the whole body.
Keeping your head clear
Climbing for me is one of the ways to clear up my head and get it quite for few hours. Especially after busy day at work, it is nice to go climbing and then just get home and faint in the bed. Of course in some practices my head is busy with some anxious feelings but once I deal with it and I can focused on climbing, I will not think of anything else than how to get to the next hold and keep the balance.
To summarize, I think climbing is a great sport to socialize as well as to keep you fit and happy. It takes effort but it pays back.
If you are looking for a new activity, try climbing!
I hope you enjoyed this story. If you have tried climbing please share in the comments below what were your first impressions and what made you to continue.
Thanks for taking time to read my blog! I’ll see you back again next time!