Over the years I’ve climbed a lot of different disciplines, but never got very good at any one in particular. A friend of mine said that he boulders to train for sport climbing, sport for better trad, trad for better winter and winter for better alpine and I suppose I’ve been doing the same, but not enough to get good at one in particular! This just means I travel to some awesome places. This is one reason I love climbing, it’s so diverse, the disciplines so spread out and experiences at either ends of the spectrum. Run out ice smears on a big wall on some distant mountain, or some sunny seaside bouldering with a BBQ and good friends spotting you. No matter what experience you want, whether you want to be committed and scared or to enjoy your weekend camping in Font.
The places you can travel to when climbing are incredible, and non climbers just won’t see the same sights as you do. Above the clouds on the north face of the Eiger about to bed down for the night, or stepping out of a kayak onto a DWS route in sunny Dorset; these are experiences and sights we get as climbers. Add the idyllic places like Tonsai in Thailand, a secluded beach where pretty much everyone is a climber. I travelled there by myself and within an hour I had found someone to climb with for the next 3 weeks.
The people you meet and the friendships you make, lasting and trusting, shared by a common interest and the fact you’re holding their lifeline in your hands: that’s a pretty strong bond! It’s a small world and the climbing community even smaller. Favours are given easily and gratefully returned, lending out portaledges, meeting you after a big wall epic with pizza at the campsite, or having a hot chocolate waiting in the mountain hut after a midnight descent of Grand Capucin.
As for the lifestyle, if your passion/hobby or sport changes your lifestyle it surely says something about how worthwhile it is. I haven’t gone fully ‘dirtbag’ but most of my trips definitely are dirtbag style: sleeping in caves on belay platforms, eating pasta (or pizza if you’re in Arco) for every meal, flying with all your clothes on to cut down luggage costs, all part of the lifestyle I enjoy.
It betters me both physically and mentally and I’m sure, for some people, spiritually. I’m not a fan of going to the gym but the long walk-ins, pumpy routes and carrying all that kit certainly keeps me fit. I love pushing myself in all senses of the word. Climbing does this to you. Valley to summit ascent of Mont Blanc at the end of my climbing trip saw me pretty much sleep walking! Setting and reaching your goals is an awesome feeling, climbing up through the grades or just getting that route done you’’ve had your eye on for 4 years.
It’s like your parents always said, “It’s character building,” and of course looking back they are right, it’s experiences that make a person interesting or knowledgeable and sharing a sufferfest is one way to accomplish this! Creating memories that you will never forget is a special thing, and climbing gives me plenty of these memories.
That, in short, is why I love climbing, for all these reasons and more, some may seem cliché, but after all they are cliché for a reason!
A short climbing story by Tim Howell, "Why I love climbing"
- July 10, 2015