Climbing is much more than an activity. It’s a lifestyle. It gets you in shape, pushing your comfort zone and boosts your confidence, creating a great sense of self accomplishment and pride.
By Jake Vita
It also holds one of the best communities I can proudly say I’m a part of, and it’s a great way to escape the constant grind of a 9-5, allowing for a moment to breathe, challenging your mind and body, all while having fun.
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 one’s surroundings, or simply for the challenge and exercise. Climbing is something we 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 for those soon-to-be climbers aching to conquer their doubts and climb that mountain!
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 you 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 other activities that will pull, push, and stretch the muscles throughout the entire body.
Take away: Strengthening the fibers within your muscles will increase the flexibility resulting in a lower chance of injury!
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 in a shared common goal. When you find yourself halfway 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.
Take away: 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 mental and physical
When climbing, you’ll hear many ask what “problem” other climbers are on. This is because we all see routes as problems we must solve.
It’s 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’s about approaching a hold or move incorrectly.
Take away: Climbing is a constant learning process engaging your mind as much as your body.
4- Confidence and Discipline
There really is no other feeling like finishing a V5 that’s been defeating you for the last three days.
When a climb is unachievable, there’s 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 fingertips. 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 climbers will learn to further their abilities and conquer the next problem!
Take away: Climbing brings in a very personal sense of accomplishment.
5- Any time, any day.
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 is the answer! It’s 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 L.A.’s 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.
Take away: With reputable gyms in the Greater Pasadena area and all over Southern California, 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 several 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 one’s 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 an adventurous native Southern Californian currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Awareness. 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 as he’s always on the lookout for that spectacular photo or video opportunity. He hopes to inspire those around him to take action to protect and preserve our natural resources.
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