What’s the first word you think of when pondering your project? Hard? Inspiring? Frustrating? How about fun?!
I’ve been climbing for about a year and a half now. True to my nature, I went climbing at a local gym, got hooked and dove head first into all that is climbing. I’m fortunate to have a circle of climbing friends who have mentored me and shown me the ropes (pun intended). These friends took me climbing outside early on and would describe routes as ‘delicate’, ‘burly’, ‘balance-y’, ‘spicy’. With my limited knowledge at the time, this made no sense what-so-ever. When I was asked about the climb, I could only answer as my genuine, psyched outta my mind newb self, “fun!” or “super fun!” with the occasional “really effin fun!”
As the wonderful and crazy world of climbing opens before me, I’ve realized the importance of keeping the essence of why I got hooked in the first place. ‘Cause it’s fun. Don’t get me wrong – fun materializes in different ways depending on the person, the day and the climb. For me, trying hard is fun, pushing my limits and making gains is a blast and in our over stimulated, hectic world something as simple, yet thrilling as climbing is what it’s all about.
It’s definitely not all smiles and laughs, it’s also hard work, sacrifices and the psych you can only get when failing, learning and growing are involved. This is not a new concept or one that only applies to climbing. There’s a commonly used scale of fun among outdoorsy folks that my Dad introduced me to when I was young.
- Type one: pure fun, think trampolines, jug holds, beer and tacos.
- Type two: fun after it’s over, but kinda horrible when it’s happening. Taking big whippers, sketchy clipping positions, heartbreak hill during the Boston Marathon, doing the dishes.
- Type three: not fun at all, the planning is horrible, the execution is gruesome, but the memory and story are fun. Examples: your first time ice climbing on a negative degree day, driving 15+ hours to The Red.
The beautiful—not-to-mention frustrating, painful and anxiety ridden thing that comes along with the climbing thing is that it’s not all type 1. In fact, the most impactful, memorable moments tend to be in type 2-3 neighborhood.
Don’t take it from me; some of the bests have shared the same sentiment. The late Alex Lowe was quoted in American Alpine Journal (AAJ) as saying, “The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun!” It can’t just be about sending, grade chasing or out-doing the person belaying you. If so, you’ve missed out on all the in between moments. Chris Sharma said in Origin Magazine, “Climbing is this long term, lifelong journey. It’s really important to just take your time with it and keep it fun. I’ve seen a lot of people burn out…For me, it’s been really important to keep it enjoyable. Listen to your motivation.” Why did you get hooked? Connect with those reasons as your pure and genuine motivation.
So whether you’re blissing out on type 1, enjoying the aftermath of type 2 or freaking the F out over type 3, keep it fun and appreciate the experience for what it is.
Climb on (and have fun),