Rock climbing Carderock (Photo – Jarek Tuszyński, wikimedia).

      Rock climbing Carderock (Photo – Jarek Tuszyński, wikimedia).

      Climbing is much more than an activity. It is a lifestyle. It gets you in shape, it pushes your comfort zone and boosts your confidence, it creates a great sense of self accomplishment and pride, it holds one of the best communities I can proudly say I am a part of, and it’s a great way to escape the constant grind of a 9-5 and allow for a moment to breathe, challenge your mind and body, and just have some fun.

       By Jake Vita

      For as long as man has walked this planet, scaling mountains has been a part of life. Whether it be to discover what lies beyond the next horizon, to gain a new perspective on ones surroundings, or simply for the challenge and exercise. Climbing is something we, as human beings, are naturally able to do.

      However, in this day and age, many of us did not enter this life with a physical mountain blocking our path to the next destination, so it’s a skill that is routinely forgotten. The sight of a 150 foot rock face vertically rising into the sky is a daunting one, and the thought of climbing it brings doubt and anxiety into many minds.

      But do not fear! Climbing is a process that comes quickly to those who use it with discipline. It is just as much an exercise as it is a release. Here are 5 tips I have for those soon-to-be climbers aching to conquer their doubts and climb that mountain!

      1- Fitness

      Rock climbing benefits: Fitness (Photo - Jake VIta)

      Rock climbing benefits: Fitness (Photo – Jake VIta)

      Whether you’re looking to tie yourself in and climb a rock face with ropes, or go solo and climb a boulder with no assistance, they both offer an excellent workout for your entire body! Going to the gym and countless weight lifting in front of a mirror can be intimidating, and many find it hard to concentrate on such repetition. Climbing however targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, all while continuously ascending or traversing a wall. Looking for that upper body workout that will create hardened triceps and a toned chest? Check. How about legs of steel and a washboard core? Check again. Climbing uses your physical mass as resistance, and targets muscles one normally wouldn’t use on a daily basis to lift and balance the weight of your body. This creates strengthened muscle fibers that will not only grow in size, but be better suited for real activities that will pull, push, and stretch the muscles throughout your entire body. Strengthening the fibers within your muscles also increases the flexibility resulting in a lower chance of injury!

      2- Community

      Carey Nachenberg down-climbing Monkey Sang Direct! (Photo - RQ Hill, Facebook).

      Carey Nachenberg down-climbing Monkey Sang Direct! (Photo – RQ Hill, Facebook).

      Rock climbing is its own culture. The community itself is one of the most supportive and perpetuating of its kind. The sport is about challenging one’s mental and physical capacity. This brings all participants and enthusiasts together as we all share a common goal. When you find yourself half way up a climb thinking you’re spent and there’s no way this last move is possible, it’s common to hear chants from below encouraging victory. Beyond the support, you’ll make friends who come from all walks of life. I regularly climb with a fashion designer, a guitarist from a heavy metal band, and an environmental lawyer. We all come together to work out, push each other, increase our body awareness, and have a great time climbing!

      3- It’s just as mental as it is physical

      Rock Climbing is just as mental as it is physical (photo - Jake Vita).

      Rock Climbing is just as mental as it is physical (photo – Jake Vita).

      When climbing, you’ll hear many ask what “problem” another climber is on. This is because we all see routes as problems we must solve. It is not as simple as adding weight to a barbell to increase difficulty. Climbing requires a critical analysis of the route at hand, and an awareness of how your body can balance and control itself on small ledges or inverted hangs. The best climber is not always the strongest, but the one who is patient, collected, and observant. Falling from a climb is rarely the product of not being strong enough. It was approaching a hold or move incorrectly. Climbing is a constant learning process engaging your mind just as much as your body.

      4- Confidence and Discipline

      Rock climbing benefits: Confidence and Discipline (Photo – Steven Depolo, flickr).

      Rock climbing benefits: Confidence and Discipline (Photo – Steven Depolo, flickr).

      There really is no other feeling like finishing a V5 that’s been defeating you for the last three days. Climbing brings in a very personal sense of accomplishment. When a climb is unachievable, there is no excuse or other person to blame. It drives you to work on whatever aspect of the climb is the most difficult. Maybe you’re not limber enough, or the holds are too demanding on your finger tips. These are all skills that can be perfected through practice and understanding. Stretching before your climbs, warming up on easier routes to allow your muscles to breathe; these are all things that a climber will learn to further their abilities and conquer the next problem!

      5- Any time, any day.

      Rock Climbing benefits (photo - Jake Vita).

      Rock Climbing benefits (photo – Jake Vita).

      One of my favorite aspects of climbing is its accessibility. If it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon with the sun shining and a gentle breeze whistling through the trees, I’ll load up my chalk bag and crash pad then it’s off to Joshua Tree or Point Dume for some prime outdoor climbing! But what if rain clouds wander in and the weather halts any hopes for enjoying that fresh air? Indoor climbing to your hearts content, that’s what! There have been a large amount of climbing gyms opening all across the Los Angeles area over the last year, with many more to come. Indoor climbing is the best place to push yourself and try climbs that may be a bit too hard if attempted outdoors. The padded floors, community of spotters, and seemingly endless routes make for the best training conditions. I regularly climb at LA Boulders in the Arts District when I want to try some insane bouldering problems that seem like they’re straight out of a video game. When I feel the need to push my sport climbing abilities and tie in to a belay I head over the Stronghold just east of Chinatown. With reputable gyms in Riverside, Arcadia, Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, Torrance, Malibu, and two planned for Pasadena, there’s no reason to miss out on climbing just because the weather or lighting isn’t permitting.

       So what are you waiting for?

      Strap on some climbing shoes, powder your palms in chalk, and get up on that wall and crush a problem!

      Rock Climbing Key Terms:

      Here are a couple of key terms that will prepare you for the otherwise foreign lingo you will undoubtedly hear while climbing:

      • Bouldering – A form of climbing where there are no ropes or harness to hold the climber to the wall. Generally the problems are shorter in length, but require more strength and contain challenging moves all the way to the top.
      • Sport Climbing – A discipline of climbing where the climber is roped in and supported by their belay partner from the ground. Sport climbs are much longer than bouldering routes, and require more endurance.
      • V# – Bouldering problems are graded by a V# system. V0 being for beginners, with each number increasing to indicate difficulty.
      • Flapper – When your skin peels at a certain point from excessive climbing. This is considered a point of initiation for many climbers!
      • Crimps – Climbing holds that are very shallow in depth from the wall, usually only allowing ones fingertips to fit onto.
      • Jug – a large, scooped hold great for taking a moment to hang and catch your breath.
      • Beta – Tips or assistance offered from another climber regarding a specific move or approach to a problem.
      • Crux – The most difficult part of a climb.
      • Send – To ascend a climb.
      • Match – To put both hands or feet on the same hold simultaneously.
      • Bump – A move where a hand or foot is moved to one hold, then quickly moved to a further hold. Often used when the desired hold is out of immediate reach.


      Jake Vita is a native Southern Californian currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Awareness. Adventurous by nature, he spends his free time scuba diving, rock climbing, paddle boarding, backpacking, and enjoying the outdoors. Jake’s interest in photography and film goes hand-in-hand with his activities and he is always on the lookout for that spectacular photo or video opportunity. A committed environmentalist, Jake intends to continue his studies in the field of environmental awareness in the hope of inspiring those around him to take action to protect and preserve our natural resources.

      Read More: Store’s Floor Disappears, Forcing Shoppers to Rock Climb

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      1. Alex Nodopaka says:

        Great article! It inspired me to climb mountains… virtually only. Actually at my age I imagine the mountain levitating under me as an ideal exercise. OK, don’t break a leg and NEVER climb a mountain during an earthquake!

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