“But I’m too out of shape to climb” NONSENSE!
Author: J Miller
I talk about climbing a lot. It’s my passion. People also ask me about it a lot, because they see that passion. If the topic of climbing comes up it can be almost guaranteed that I will begin talking entirely too much. Luckily it’s a topic that actually interests people. Most people at one point or another in the conversation will say “I really want to try that sometime.” To which I always reply “Let’s go!” I get amped up and turn into a cheerleader encouraging them to join me for a weekend on the rock or on a mountain. I’m a climbing guide because I think climbing is amazing, and I want to share it with everyone who has ever even considered trying it. It can be a life changing experience. I know climbing has changed and molded my own life in many positive ways. Unfortunately all too often my “Let’s go” is replied to with a “But…” Sadly that “but” is someone worrying about personal physical attributes they worry might hold them back. They see images of climbers, and they see these strong, lean, sinewy, athletes with amazing bodies, and slabs of lean muscle. They assume that all of us are extraordinary athletes with 5% body fat and the grip strength of The Terminator. Sure, the elite climbers out there are in incredible shape. Climbing every day as a profession is going to make you strong and fit in ways most people can’t comprehend. It’s strenuous, it’s great exercise, and it uses muscles most people didn’t know existed.
Luckily strength and fitness are not everything in climbing. In fact, often times they are a minuscule factor. The biggest factor in climbing is the mental game. Without a doubt, mental state can propel you further than any amount of strength and fitness. It’s like playing a chess game against gravity and your own natural fear of heights that lurks deep within every human being as some sort of safety mechanism. The mental aspect of trusting your equipment, your fingertips, the fractions of inches of shoe rubber you have making contact with the rock, and your ability to take the next step upward are all a part of this exciting mental game we like to play as climbers. The more difficult the climb, the more mental fortitude that “chess” game requires, and difficulty is all relative to your personal abilities. A first time climber can experience the same thrill and play the same mental game on an easy scramble up a beginner climb that a high level climber can experience hanging from a single phalanges as they struggle to complete one of the world’s most difficult climbs.
This is what makes climbing so much fun, and such a great sport to introduce anyone to whether they are young, old, chubby, skinny, awkward, or agile, a world class athlete, or a professional couch potato. There is a climb that everyone can conquer; and by conquering the climb that is within your physical abilities you are going to feel just as good as the professional climber who conquered the climb within his or hers. This is also what makes climbing more of an art than a sport. It’s all up to your individual interpretation to make it safely up the climb you or your guide has chosen for you. Granted, there are some best practices that make any climb easier to summit, and at AIC we take our time to share them with all of our clients to give them the best experience possible. We know the best feeling you can have is succeeding, so we will give you every tool we possibly can to help you succeed. At the end of the day though, success in climbing is ultimately your decision. For some people it’s reaching the summit of a long and sustained climb with a high difficulty rating. For many others it is just as simple as getting their feet of f the ground and trying it. So to those who tell me “Jason I’d really like to try that some time, but…”; I implore you to take the “but” out of your sentence and instead replace it with a time for us to go climb. Your success is personal, and it is not up to me to decide. As your guide, I’m here to give you the tools to succeed in your goals and do so safely.
Adventures in Climbing has had the honor of working with many types of clients. Our clients range from the handicapped, to the experienced climbers looking to train for their next big epic adventure. We understand the personal aspect of climbing, and getting outside, and trying something new. We are climbers too, and once upon a time we had to start up a wall for our first time. Our guides still measure their own personal levels of success and those levels are just that, personal. You are not too out of shape to try climbing. You might be too out of shape to conquer La Dura Dura (currently the hardest sport route in the world) with Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra, but I can guarantee you that regardless of your level of fitness AIC can find the climb that’s right for you. At the end of the day, you will go home with a feeling of accomplishment, and quite possibly a brand new addiction. Don’t worry, this one is perfectly healthy, and might even lead to you increasing those personal fitness levels that nearly worried you into not even trying.