It’s easy in the diverse sport of rock climbing to compare yourselves to others, whether it’s professional climbers on Instagram or members of your own community. The reality is that everyone has their unique strengths in climbing and that almost everyone will approach a climb in their own way. Finding your own unique strength in climbing means to stop comparing yourself to others, and to listen to yourself. Pay attention to the moments that make you feel the most motivated, excited and alive, and to the climbs that stimulate you physically and mentally.
Healthy Vs Unhealthy Competition
Being immersed in a climbing community can lead to healthy competition amongst friends, which is motivating when done respectfully. Competition can be encouraging to try harder and for sharing beta amongst friends. However, it can also lead to disappointment and over-comparisons when you don’t measure up to the standards you’ve imagined in your mind. Stay conscious and make sure you’re climbing for yourself, not just to impress others or “doing it for the ’gram.”
No Climbing Style is Superior and People Excel in Different Areas
I am a woman with a small frame and I don’t build muscle mass easily. I struggle on over-hangs and dynamic, powerful moves. Throughout my years of climbing, I have realized that while I struggle on certain routes, I excel when it comes to technical, crimpy and dihedral routes. I am lightweight, flexible and capable of finding technical static beta to make moves that others might approach dynamically. This movement comes naturally to me and makes me feel excited and alive. I am stimulated by solving the climbing puzzle in my own static way, utilizing my climbing techniques. These are my strengths, and these are what keeps me going. Some of my male climbing partners excel at the routes I struggle on, and on the flipside they can be quite awkward at the routes that I seemingly swim up. This is not to say that one type of climbing is superior to the other, not at all. It is simply to say that different climbers excel in different areas and it’s important to recognize that in the climbing community, we all have different strengths to offer and moments where we shine. It can be interesting to watch climbers approach the same climb with entirely different beta and both succeed. Finding your approach to the climb is about trying and finding the movements that come naturally and allow you to send.
Climbing is so much more than a physical endeavor. It can be frightening and requires a lot of commitment and stepping out of your comfort zone. Maintaining calm while assessing and evaluating risk is a major strength, and arguably a necessity, in climbing.
Community Support and Building Each Other Up
In addition to your physical strengths in climbing, it’s important to pay close attention to the way you interact in your community. A major contribution I bring to my climbing community is endless support. I am always willing to belay my friends on their projects, waiting patiently and offering an attentive belay, knowing these favors will be reciprocated. Supporting the efforts of my friends helps to create a cohesive community of climbers that encourage each other to find and excel in our strengths. When I am afraid on the sharp end, knowing my belay partner is there for me to catch my falls and offer emotional support gives me the extra strength I need to push myself. I’ve learned that while climbing is inherently a solo sport, investing time and energy into your climbing community can improve your own experience. Creating healthy competition, working on problems together and celebrating the accomplishments of your friends creates a strong community of climbers that build each other up. Some of my proudest climbs were not done by me alone; the support from my climbing partners is an immeasurable tool that gives me strength that improves my confidence, helps me relax and gives me accountability.
Name: Kayla McKinney
Location: Breckenridge, Colorado, USA