Climbing heals. There’s no other way to say it. It’s true for a multitude of ailments, great and small, physical and mental. Climbing is the only elixir I know that can heal all of these to a point where they are survivable. Allow me to share some examples.
First, there’s my former suicidal self. That’s probably the most profound example I can offer, so I’ll describe it first. Following my deployment to the Middle East as a machine-gunner in the military, I was suicidal for 16 years. That becomes a way of life after a while, if you get where I’m coming from. Then, one day (30 Apr 2016), my psychiatrist sent me to the local indoor bouldering gym. It changed my life forever!!! A pair of La Sportiva TC Pro climbing shoes, a light grey Black Diamond chalk bag, and a Metolius chalk ball later, I was filled with happiness and the will to live a very long life again!!! Climbing did that!!!
Another example is my right ankle. I had injured it beyond repair crossing a dilapidated air field in the middle of the night on patrol. The doctors and surgeons said that, because nothing had broken, torn, severed, or otherwise done anything but stretched beyond where it should’ve snapped in two, there was nothing they could do. They put me in an ankle brace that immobilized my ankle so that I could walk as long as my 8″ combat boots were laced up tight and told me I’d never be able to do anything with it again. Then I climbed. First, I climbed with just the brace and my TC Pro climbing shoes. Then I got a pair of La Sportiva Katana Lace climbing shoes to climb in with the brace. Slowly my ankle began to strengthen. One day, I decided I would climb without the brace in just my climbing shoes. I did it!!! It worked!!! I climb without my brace, walk without my brace, hike without my brace, and do everything else without my brace all the time, now, and have for a couple of years. Climbing did that!!!
A third example is one that a friend and mentor of mine and I are sharing right now – the distress tolerance and emotional regulation power of climbing. My friend lost his brother a couple of months ago, his sister about a week ago, and is on the verge of losing his mom. He packed up his old truck and hit the road solo for some much-needed climbing and thinking time away from the stresses of the world. His wife is going to meet up with him on down the road. My friend has said that climbing calms him and centers him. It does the same for me. Moving across stone does that. I think of my friend every day and wonder how he’s doing with his demons as I battle my own. Climbing heals. I hope you’re healing, Lou. Just remember, climbing heals. Climb…