Photo credit: Long Dong cliffs taken by my friend Mandy.
Although metaphorically I like the ring that has, I mean that very literally. I’ve been climbing for just over 2 months now, which has been exclusively bouldering in the gym – which for those that don’t know is climbing without a rope on short routes that have crash mats to protect your fall. It’s the easiest to get started on since you literally don’t need anything to start apart from shoes (which you can rent to start with). Since I started I’ve taken it in my stride and I’m already going 3 times a week. I’m an all-in kind of guy, just how I studied Chinese, learnt web dev. Climbing is no different and I’m already devoted student to the sport a lot of time not just training, but also learning the techniques and the history.
I feel good, I feel strong, so I want to share a few things about climbing that have got me obsessed with it.
It’s not just a physical game
There’s a huge mental aspect to climbing, from strategising how you are going to solve a particular problem (that’s what they call the routes in bouldering), to dealing with dangerous situations where you might fall and hurt yourself. This is even more true for when are climbing outside on a cliff where the factors are less controlled and the consequences could be much much more severe.
Just climbing is enough
I talked to a climber that’s been training a couple years now and he’s an absolute beast tearing through some crazy routes with the smallest of holds and the steepest of inclines. I asked him why he started climbing, he said he used to be into basketball, but what he got tired of is that with basketball you spend half the time on the court practising and the other half in the gym getting stronger and fitter. You need to dedicate that time to do weight training to really compete at a high level. Many of the best climbers in the world just climb to get stronger. If you so choose there are climbing specific exercises you can do to get stronger, but you’ll see very few climbers hitting the gym to get that extra edge, mostly climbing is enough to get strong.
Every sport I’ve ever been really enjoyed, always has functional strength. That means that the movement you are training is useful for us in daily life such as “walking, running, pushing, pulling, and grasping”. I feel as a human we were meant to climb, stand on our hands, hold ourselves off an edge. We weren’t designed to hold a very heavy bar between our shoulders and squat up and down. This isn’t an attack on weight or power lifters however, but it’s just my opinion on what kind of movement I prefer my body to do. Things that are more ‘natural’ and what we were designed to do. Breakdancing, climbing and martial arts have all taught me how to ‘move my body’, and to express myself physically. And they have in my experience are far less prone to injury, even despite the perceived risk of spinning on your head, standing on one hand or hanging off a 50ft cliff. It’s also because they are practised using only your own body weight, and the movements involve our entire bodies and don’t isolate like weight lifting does.
There’s just something badass about it
I think similar to breakdancing, parkour, martial arts, they all fall into an ‘extreme sports’ category and there’s just something badass about it. I like the idea that I can think about climbing over things are not just go around things. I like the idea of using these skills I’ve learnt and climbing natural structures. There’s also something meditative about sitting there below a problem, mapping out how you’re going to solve this problem and executing. It’s just you and the rock and you just feel free.