There’s an intense focus experienced when we climb, one that’s hard to beat with anything else. Being in that “zone”, feeling the texture of the rock under my finger-tips and listening to my feet as they transfer body weight between them. 10 minutes later, sat feet over the cliff looking out to sea and buzzing from my achievement, knowing that my friend on the other end of the rope is about to have just as great an experience.
More importantly I want to explain why the reasons you have to not take up climbing can be what motivates you to climb for many more years – once you’ve started. You may not consider climbing to be your thing, you may think it’s a bit too extreme, well, here are the most common reasons that non-climbers have for talking themselves out of trying and exactly why they are reasons to pick up a harness.
“I don’t have any one to climb with.”
You may have lots of friends, but not always any that want to give climbing a go with you and this is the main barrier for a lot of people. This is easily solved at any indoor climbing wall in the country that runs an introduction / learn to climb course, as almost all do.
These courses are filled on a 1:6 or 1:9 instructor ratio with people just like you, wanting to take up climbing and most importantly to meet other like-minded people to do it with. Climbers are a sociable bunch and I often see experienced climbers visiting indoor walls on their own and then climbing with the regular members 5 minutes later.
“My body is the wrong shape and size”
There are few excuses to not give climbing a try here. You are never too unfit, too short, or too wide. Your hands are not too small and your feet are not too big. Just take a look in any climbing wall and you’ll see it’s packed with climbers (people) of every shape and size having a great time.
Climbing is so much more than brute force, it’s about balance, movement and finesse. Sometimes it’s the most unsuspecting shapes that climb with relative ease. In fact, thinking about it, most of the worlds greatest climbers are shorter than you would imagine.
“I’m too old to take start that crazy stuff”
Are you, really? I recently coerced my Dad (66) in to a harness for the first time at a wall in London and I know him well enough to see he was definitely nervous. More to amuse me I think, he had agreed to have “just one” short climb. I kept the rope nice and tight for him as he made his way up, partly expecting him to decide that half way was far enough (which would have been just fine).
He flew to the top though and I lowered him down as he smiled from ear to ear. He loved it and instantly wanted to go again. After 4 goes up the same route it was clear that he had forgotten his excuse of age. There was no overexertion, no stresses or strains on his body, just great fun!
“I’m scared of heights”
I could play on the pun of harnessing your fears, explaining how you will get over it. The reality is though, a healthy fear of heights is almost impossible to not to have – it is self preservation! I think that if my heart-rate didn’t increase at height, if my palms didn’t become clammy, then I would quite frankly find it all quite boring.
You don’t need to climb high to enjoy climbing. Many cities across the country are seeing the opening of bouldering centres; low level climbing above padded mats without the need for ropes.
This is a great way to enjoy the movement and feeling of climbing whist keeping well inside the height of your comfort zone. You may just find however that without intending to you’ll get a little higher up each time.
“There isn’t anywhere near me to take up climbing”
Entertain me – do a google search now for “climbing wall in your nearest town / city”. There are around 350 climbing walls in the UK so there is a very high chance that a wall is near your home or work. You may have lived where you are for 20 years but if you’ve never actively looked then you may not have seen it.
The big cities tend to host large climbing centres and as you move into the smaller cities and towns you might start to find local walls inside leisure centres or collage halls. Almost all of these are open to public climbers and all of those would welcome the chance to show you the ropes!
Find you local wall, pop down to have a look and I am sure you will want to take up climbing. In my next post I will start from the beginning on the “how” we climb.