This post is written because the majority of the people I deeply care about don’t really know or understand this insane passion. What’s the point of hugging pebbles and spending all of my disposable income on gear and traveling for quality rock?
Then they ask me how does climbing work, as it is such a simple question; but it often ends up me having a 30-minute lecture with a slide-show, HAHA. So from now on, I’ll just send them a link here.
Climbing, as summarized by the ever glorious Wikipedia:
Climbing is the activity of using one’s hands, feet, or any other part of the body to ascend a steep object.
So yeah – that is fairly straightforward. But then it gets complex and you can find about 30 different sub-categories from indoor climbing to ice climbing and alpinism .. and then within these categories, there are subcategories and sooooooo many different skills and styles. Inception much? This is why I need the slideshow.
I’m going to focus on 3 categories:
Climbing stripped down to the raw essentials. All you need is a crash pad and some pebbles and you’re good to go. No rope skills required, no tying knots, no going high or building anchors, just some raw muscle power, and a cushion to fall on. :).
Josh and Rich carrying their pads in the Peak District, Sheffield.
Sheffield is so pretty in the Summer with all the heather..
…. But Gritstone gets slippery in the heat. FYI, slippery rock, not ideal :D.
Sport gets a tiny bit more complex. These routes can be from a few meters up to however long, and they are protected with anchors and bolts that are permanently attached to the rock. (This requires a person seeing the effort of bolting the rock for others to climb.)
Then you attach a rope (usually about 60m long) onto two people; the climber and belayer (who is standing on the ground). The climber moves on the rock (upwards, most of the time :D.), securing herself (yes it’s a lady), by attaching the rope with quickdraws on the rock.
Demonstrating the art of clipping in Wyndcliff Quarry, Chepstow.
Wyndcliff Quarry, Chepstow, Wales
This type of climbing is more about endurance than making powerful movements. On sport, you need to learn the basic rope skills such as tying yourself in and threading from anchors. If you want to learn more about this I suggest you take a course :D. I enjoy this type of climbing as it’s quite a low risk and easily accessible.
SURPRISE SURPRISE not all of the rock in the world is bolted. So – trad requires the climber to place removable gear to the rock so that in the event of a fall, they don’t hit the ground. (This is the part where the slides and charts come in. People just look baffled and nod :D..) After this, the seconder collects the gear and they meet on top of the climb. Usually. This is a bit of a scarier form of climbing as you’re trusting your own ability to place gear that will not slip, get pulled or walk off the rock. I’m less experienced with trad, but suuuuper keen on doing.
The fear factor is a big thing. You’re quite aware of your own mortality when really high up and/or have shit protection. It definitely doesn’t help when your mom keeps sending you news about random people dying for a reason or another while climbing :D.
Like any sport: done rationally according to abilities with good gear and there’s not much danger. Probably more dangerous to cross the street on a busy day….. (This is written directly to you, mom.)
Me doing a route on Gritstone at the Peak District, Sheffield, UK.
But still, whenever scared on a route, it’s really important to assess where the feelings of being scared come from (like in life in general). Is it because I’m high up? Or because my gear placement is crap? If I fall, is it possibly detrimental? So then you just sit there, assessing these feelings and thinking, why the hell do I do this to myself?
And then your mind is like:
“if I ever get down, I promise to live my life differently” (HA YEA, right)
Rock hits hard back 😀 especially granite …
But the human mind is strange, it forgets these really difficult feelings quite quickly. When you get down you only remember the flush of adrenaline and how great pushing yourself to the limits was. Aaaaand get on the next route.
Getting scared while climbing has taught me a great deal about life. Like: I can sit here, weep, and feel sorry for myself for being in this situation; or I can calm myself down, start focusing on WHY I’m stuck and HOW to move on.
The source for all my knowledge is Rich (read helmet in the picture, the bf), he is the main factor I progressed so quickly from an indoor climber to doing trad outdoors. He’s basically taught me everything I know about outdoor climbing, and apparently, he has learned much of his skills by watching EpicTV. Swell. :D. In good hands we are.
Rich and Timo eyeing a climb called “Kantti” at Olhava, Finland.
Olhava, Repovesi National Park. You have to row a boat to get on this tiny island where the climb gets off from. How cool is that?
Midnight Lightning, in Yosemite. One of the world’s most iconic bouldering routes.
Having this massive passion in your life to share with your partner is a really great thing. It’s a real glue that sticks us together and it’s nice that there’s always someone enthusiastic to nip a climb with at 6:00am before work. And I know that I can trust his skills and abilities. But there are downsides to climbing with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Because you know each other so well and can be honest with each other, you CAN get into a fight 100m up a multi-pitch because he said YOU ONLY LIKE CLIMBING ON BIG HOLDS. (Which is an insult btw, however close it may be to the truth………………..)
And then you can’t afford therapy because all of your income is going to climbing. :D.
Rich having breakfast at Pinnacles National Park, US. Before a day of some routes.
Kat and Rich on “Silent”, in the Peak District, UK
Hope you enjoyed reading 🙂 if not, I don’t really care.