Making Climbing Special Again

Exercising soul sports and try-hard.

Making Climbing Special Again
Photo by Kyle Johnson / Unsplash

Climbing has been my primary hobby for about four years now. I like to think of myself as a very soulful person and as such very much adhere to the "soul sport" philosophy of climbing.

Surprisingly, I still haven't read Steph Davis's 'High Infatuation', though it's a odd paradox that I feel like I've already embodied much of the prose of that book -- having embarked, for better and worse, on two dirtbag adventures of my own. I love coming across blog posts like this one and being reminded of the many lessons in Arno Ilgner's 'The Rock Warrior's Way'.

Somewhat unusually in this day and age I've been climbing outdoors just about as long as I've been climbing in a gym. Early on, with a belligerent zeal, I embraced outdoor climbing as "real climbing." To date I've ticked over 500 ascents outdoors and things are a little different. As it turns out, time has given me a very low tolerance for climbers who condescend on or turn their nose up at climbers who have a different preferred style (be it indoor vs. outdoor, boulder vs. trad, etc...).

As an established "dirtbag", a few months ago I settled in to a new house that's less than 10 minutes from a climbing gym. It simply made more logical sense to got to the gym as much as possible to make use of this opportunity rather than stubbornly continue to stick out 2+ hour commutes to the crag every weekend.

However, this summer has taught me many lessons. For one, I'm grateful to be at the crag, when I am there, again. It is no longer, "just another weekend adventure", but recurring special treat -- a privilege. The acceptance of that privilege has shown itself in increased "stoke" as well as much needed healthy separation from ego and expectations.

On one hand there are the "big milestones" like a new personal record, redpoint, etc... Then there are the "small milestones" that often get overlooked such as the spectacular views atop long pitches, or the above picture. Somewhere in that 28 hours, I still slept 8 hours, went to a birthday party, and commuted an unneeded 2+ hours.

So, there is no reason to think that it couldn't have been condensed in-a-day, or even 12-16 hours. The point is that on that particular endeavor my stoke far outlasted my skin, bone, and muscle; proving to me once again how powerfully important it is to keep "soul" in all the "sports" that you do.

Originally published 2017-08-02

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