Rock climbing is like nothing I’ve ever done before. I’m highly motivated to do it, and everyone around me looks at me like I’m crazy (unless they’re rock climbers, too, of course, who KNOW I’m crazy!). People around me find out that I’m a rock climber and they give the “Wow!” reaction, followed by the “Oh My God!” reaction, and finally the “Why Would You Do That???” reaction. That often leads to the actual question being uttered from their lips – “Why on earth would you do that? Isn’t that dangerous? You could be killed! You’re wasting your time and worrying people! Why don’t you do something less dangerous, like golf?” And on and on they go… Golf, by the way, is not the safest sport, either. I was a groundskeeper for a private golf club for two separate seasons, and when you get whacked by a golf ball in flight, it takes you out!!! One fellow thought he’d killed me when he hit me, so he ran away and left his golf clubs, which I claimed. I was later told I had to give them back, to which I replied, “He just tried to kill me!!!” So golf isn’t that safe. Just so you know.
Our motivations for climbing are our own. Not only do we not have to justify them to others, we don’t even have to justify them to ourselves. Our feelings are valid, and the feeling I get when I’m on the rock and that pure movement is flowing is a release like no other I’ve ever felt in my entire life!!! When other people get involved (non-climbers), they can sometimes make us doubt what we’re doing. Don’t doubt yourself. You have to live your life. You only have one. One life. One chance to experience everything you can on this planet of ours. One opportunity to overcome and manage your emotions in a way that brings you more joy than pain, and to find something you’re truly passionate about. For me, that’s climbing. Climbing is my passion. It literally saved my life, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything! Life is a calculated risk. Getting in a car and driving 60 mph is the same as jumping off of a six-story building if you happen to collide with something. We drive all the time, and at speeds much greater than 60 mph. I’ll bet you don’t think of jumping off of a six-story building when you get on the freeway… Climbing is a well-planned, carefully thought-out endeavor that we check and double-check our gear and our partners on every time. Do you have your passenger double check the integrity of your seatbelt every time you get in your vehicle to go somewhere? Have you EVER had your passenger yank on your seatbelt to see if it’s locked in tight??? I doubt it. Maybe I should ask if you even wear a seatbelt? Those seatbelt extenders do the trick to make that annoying dinging sound stop and you don’t have to have your seatbelt buckled into the extender to make that happen. I probably shouldn’t have told you that.
Whatever your motivations for climbing are, they are yours, they are valid, and they shouldn’t be determined by others’ misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about what we do as climbers. You know yourself. You know, or maybe you don’t, why you climb. Try to put that into words sometime. It’s harder than you think. Your passion is your own, though, so enjoy it to the fullest!!! See you at the crag!!!