When people ask climbers why they climb, they are usually wondering why they put themselves in a dangerous position on purpose. There is a separation between personal fulfillment and a selfish risk.
For climbers, the danger or adrenaline rush from the risk of falling isn’t usually at the forefront of their minds while they are making their way up the route.
So why do people enjoy climbing if it isn’t for the adrenaline rush? Most often, climbers mention the sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes from conquering a climbing problem/route.
In this article, I will discuss that sense of accomplishment and confidence as well as other reasons climbers express as reasons they climb.
The Sense of Accomplishment
One of the most common reasons climbers explain that they like climbing is because of the sense of accomplishment that they get when they send a new problem (climber talk for climb/finish a route).
To reach the top of the climb it takes a physical and mental competence that makes it challenging enough to get a feeling accomplished when you reach the top without falling.
In many cases, the climber isn’t capable of finishing the climb on the first try. It takes adjusting their technique or building additional strength over a period of time before they are able to make it to the top.
This makes a climber feel even more accomplished to finish the climb because they had to learn and become better to make it to the top.
The Sense of Zen
Climbers have expressed the overwhelming zen that they get when the climb. Compared to other sports, the mental and physical focus required to climb makes it difficult to think about anything else.
This clear-minded focus makes climbers feel a euphoria commonly called zen. In fact, some climbers suggest that they get more clear-minded and “zen-like” when they climb than when they try meditation.
The Physical Challenge
Climbing is a full-body workout that requires you to depend on every muscle to get your body to the next climbing hold. The harder the climb, the more physically challenging it becomes.
This physical challenge makes it so that climbers feel like they good a good workout when they are done.
In addition, people that climb consistently get stronger and more fit so they get the same benefits from exercise without feeling like they are picking up weights and putting them back down over and over again.
The Mental Challenge
Until you start climbing yourself, you may not know how mentally challenging climbing is.
For example, fears such as the fear of falling or the fear of failure make it so that climbers have to be mentally strong enough to climb despite these fears.
This mental stamina and strength increase as the climber gets more experienced and it is often rewarding for a climber to be able to use the mental strength in climbing and apply it to other parts of their life.
In addition, once you get to a certain level, you have to think your way through climbing problems (climber talk for route).
To do this, the climbers have to first consider what their strengths and weaknesses and use their mental skill to figure out how to use their strengths to their advantage as well as work around their weaknesses.
In addition, climbers are constantly learning about different ways to climb and different techniques that can help them. So while they are climbing, they are constantly thinking about what they have learned and constantly learn.
The constant learning increases the pliability of a climber’s brain which helps them learn new things outside of climbing as well.
When you are climbing, you depend on someone else to keep you safe.
For example, if you are sports climbing (climbing with a rope that you clip into the wall as you go up) you have a belayer that is responsible for preventing you from hitting the ground when you fall. They catch the rope.
If you are bouldering, you may depend on a spotter to ensure that you don’t land on your head if you fall.
The trust that you build while depending on someone else to keep your safe is not only bonding between the two of you, it is also helping you learn to trust in general.
In comparison to most other sports, the competition of a climb is between the climber and the route, not between climbers.
This makes it so that climbers are more likely to want to see you succeed and will even help you succeed if you want the help.
Climbers frequently mention the friends and bonds that they make while climbing.
Not to mention that anyone you meet at the crag (climber talk for the mountains) or at the gym already has the love of climbing in common with each other.
Other Notable Reasons
- It’s a sport that men and women can do together.
- Climbing invites you to appreciate nature and see new places
- Climbers can relate to other climbers around the world without even knowing the language
- It teaches you perseverance and courage
- George Leigh Mallory was asked in 1922 why he wanted to climb Everest and he famously told the reporter “because it’s there.” Mallory died on Everest.
If you or a loved one is becoming obsessed with climbing, there are thousands of others out there that are in love with it too. It probably isn’t the adrenaline rush that comes with the fear of falling, it is more likely the sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes from climbing.
Climbing is physically and mentally demanding so it is more fulfilling than many other sports.
In addition, trusting someone with your life and the community behind climbing can also be very fulfilling for everyone. It is probably why so many team building and trust exercises include climbing at corporate retreats.
If you are still wondering why people enjoy climbing, consider visiting your local climbing gym. Talk to the people at the gym and even give it a try.