/ Do you climb or are you a climber?
This is where I am puzzled by the others, I am fantastically motivated and always have been, in fact I have just got back in from a tiny little crag that I have been cleaning lines one and shunting a couple of new routes. However the others are happy to potter away, doing the same sport routes and certainly are not bothered to learn tradding and search out new routes. They have about the same amount of free time each week as me but if i can get them to climb about once in every two weeks I'm lucky. (hence my rather close relationship with my shunt)
I therefore got thinking, I am most defiantly a climber, always have been, every day I am obsessed buy it, I want to seek out new routes, I want to get better and with everything I do/eat/choose I think "how will this affect my climbing"
The others are what I would describe as people who enjoy climbing but its not their life.
Not saying it is wrong (it is a little frustrating for me- lack of motivated partners is holding me back a little) but it is confusing. The potential for adventure and climbing fun over here is amazing (just 2 hrs away from here is an untouched valley I found with more rock than 10 langdales) but they just don't seem bothered.
So what do you reckon, are you a climber... or do you just climb?
I was for a long time completely obsessed, climbed all over the world and in a variety of styles (trad, sports, alpine, winter etc) and would by any definition have been a climber. It is still a part of my DNA to a large extent but, being older now, I have a lot of other things to concern me - like injuries (!), building my business, how I actually make enough money for my eventual retirement, relationship stuff etc. So, even though it's an important part of my psyche, it sort of feels like I just climb now, which saddens me a little. But I don't ever see giving it up and, if I'm lucky, I may be able to become more active again.
Yeah, time is the over riding factor for me, I would say I am someone who enjoys climbing and if given enough spare time would become a climber! But I'm happy with that, I've got a good little business I'm trying hard to grow and am happily married which does actually take up a lot of time too.
I came to climbing quite late (29) so I already had a pretty full life and committments and all that boring sh*t.
I reckon if I was 18 again I'd be out all the time pushing hard!
It's a sliding scale isn't it?
I'm never going to be any good in my own frame of reference, but at the same time I've climbed routes that many people who consider themselves 'climbers' could never get up.
I plan much of my life around climbing, but I have little interest outside climbing classic trad routes in the UK. I get such a huge buzz from a Gogarth Main Cliff classic, or a couple of pitches on perfect rock on the NW Scottish coast, that I don't really have much desire to take it to the next level: training, exploring, cleaning up routes, headpointing, etc. Just going out and doing classic, popular routes, hitting my limit every now and then is where I'm at and I can't really see that changing. I couldn't do something climbing-related for a living so everything revolved around climbing, I need it as a (big) part of the balance.
Others just seem to have climbing as the same priority in their life as golf, or tennis. Thats the bit I don't (personally speaking) understand. I love other sports but that just it, they are sport I enjoy - climbing is my passion and I don't get it when others don't get from it what I do.
I don't mean this in any unpleasant way, but I think that is a little bit sad and restrictive as you are possibly closing yourself off to interesting experiences. Not saying it's wrong though.
That's a real shame.
For me if i had a day free and I didn't climb (vdiffs or otherwise)- thats a sort of a wasted day - if i did something else on that day then great - be it mtn biking of surfing or whatever, however they are only diversions i will choose to do because a) I cant climb because of conditions or b) I have got a lot of climbing in and fancy something different.
The guys and girls who climb over here seem to have climbing like, how to put it, 'just another interesting thing to do" no more. thats the bit that I don't get. (and because iI'm an impetuous git: frustrated over also)
horses for courses I suppose.
when I said I don't get it about others not getting from it what i do, I meant that Id like them to. Often I feel like it dosen't matter what someones passion, reason to get up in the mornings, is. as long as they have on.
You have to be a dreamer*
*personal opinion warning
But some people have MORE than one passion / reason to get up in the mornings! :-)
I think with many climbers it is partly an age thing; it was for me. For the first five years of my climbing (from age 16 to 21),I was more or less fanatical (which comes over in my brother Gordon's book "Fiva"), but after that other focusses came into my life - getting a good degree, building up an interesting career, marrying, having children, travelling, windsurfing, skiing, walking, living in other countries, and a whole lot of other interests. These things were not just the "usual boring old stuff": I really enjoyed them. So, from about the age of 30 to 60, my climbing enthusiasm went through various waves, from being almost as keen as in the past to only climbing a few times a year. Now am I not that fussed how much climbing I will do in the future, but I am still just as keen as ever to get out into "nature" often.
*once again a personal opinion warning - neither is right or wrong - just interesting to try to understand that which puzzles
I am also fully aware of my own personality. Not every one is wired the same. I have a perpetual need to push as far as I can. I am the type A example of an addictive personality mixed in with a few other things (makes for interesting reading decoding oneself - thank goodness I never did drugs).
My friends always find it hard to understand for example that when I start training for something I will run till I throw up, work out till I'm destroyed. (in a scientific way of course - I know about sport science)
Interesting stuff any way you look at it.
Im sure that age and life has a lot to do with it, I know a lot of people move into a more holistic approach to what they do in life. Fair doos.
I work often in youth development scenarios and I often despair at the lack of aspiration that some kids have. Where are the dreamers!!!! I wanna be an astronaut types?
Same thing really - perhaps its social programming teaching us that we shouldn't aspire to achieve just aspire to be lucky.....? (now there is an interesting subject - and before I go and hijack my own thread - perhaps a good basis for a different thread)
I climb, but I also row, cox, scull, run, and cycle. Living in Oxford over half the year and being under work and rowing pressure during that time makes it difficult to do any climbing, even just evenings at the wall are hard to fit in, to the point that I just don't any more. So I climb when I can, when I'm home, but I wouldn't say I'm a climber any more.
i neither climb nor am i a climber
am now a kitesurfer and mountain-biker....very happy :)
im with you - climbing is my central point of reference. i do other stuff, but it has to gel with the climbing element, or at least not detract from it.
all said tho, for me climbing is about alpine stuff, almost always multi-day, and usually quite complex - i dont just go to a wall or crag as to me that isnt enough of a fix.
along with this, to me cllimbinng includes all that goes with it - the airfares, the languages, the nights in tents, the food etc along with the actual climbing.
thers more than enough to center a life on in all that.
to be isolated from others as into it as you are is all part of being really into anything (no one seems as into japanese cheerleaders in silver bikinis as i am...). but unless you went sent to bolivia against your will surely this came up when making the choice..?
anyway, it doesnt sound too bad really. bolivia? that sounds awesome just in it own right.
and you could be centered on all sorts of other less cool things: in a way its lame to be obsessed with something lots of other people obsess over too. too easy.
its lamer still to not have a center to your orbit. climbing may be lonely, but its real.
also, never forget, its ok to be the nut on the fringe immersed in your own thing.
I personally hate both those sports but you seem quite elitist, as if climbing is the only thing anyone can be passionate about. I'm sure there are people out there who are just as passionate about golf as you are about climbing. Some people obsess about golf, some obsess about climbing. If you obsess about climbing but do other sports as well, what's wrong with someone obsessing about golf and doing a bit of climbing as well?
Everyone has priorities in life, yours is climbing, I really don't see why you can't understand that someone could enjoy climbing without it being their number one passion? What's so difficult to understand about the weekend warrior who doesn't think about climbing all day but then goes out to the crag on a sunny day and enjoys being outside before going home to the wife and not really thinking about it until next time?
You say you love other sports but you don't obsess about them like climbing, what would you say to someone who saw you going mointain biking and said, "I don't understand it, he just goes mountain biking but he doesn't think about it all the time, it's just like golf to him, just a hobby. I don't understand why he doesn't get out of it what I do"? If you honestly can't see why some people have different passions to yours you must have a serious lack of empathy.
I've been a climber (a very mediocre one) but I think upon reflection I'm currently just someone who climbs.
The acid test has to be whether you read climbing guidebooks in the bog.
It's great to have passion, and I sympathise with your predicament to some extent, having had to work through a similar situation out here in Tokyo over the last few years, but seriously, it sounds like you ought to step back and take stock of the world a little... Whatever issues and frustration you get from not having people around you who share your level of passion for climbing, those things really need to be worked through alone, and not viewed in reference to other people, 'cause that just skews your perspective. You've got no idea about the man/woman walking past you in the street, and what their lives look like from close up, what their passions are etc... and probably the same goes for your climbing partners, when they're back home behind closed doors. Everyone is into something, and that something could be anything if it makes them happy with their lives. Perhaps a more interesting question for you to think about would be, in a world that contains as much diversity, culture and interest as the one we live in, how come all you can get excited about is climbing?? Maybe all those other people are looking at you and thinking "This bloke can't see the forest for the trees...". On the other hand, they might not even be thinking about you at all ;) Hope it all comes good for you in the end. Bolivia must be an awesome place to spend a part of your life!
I've seen this with expats becoming more attached to their national heritage when they move abroad (among foreigners) than they ever were at home (and when/if these people move home they usually revert)
The sense of identity might be different if you were in a very climbing-focussed environment and peer group.
This isn't in any way a criticism, just a lens through which to interpret some of the various comments, including your own. Ultimately it's an opportunity to try and enjoy a role.
That'll be me then :-)
A friend summed this up quite neatly, talking about "Lifers" versus "Lifestylers"
I've been astonished over the years by the number of people I've known who have got into climbing for a year or two, done very well, then lost interest as other things have been prioritised. However this does lead to lots of second-hand kit on sale, so it's not all bad.
I get the impression that in the 70s and 80s there were far fewer climbers but they were virtually all "lifers". Even in the 90s when I started that demographic seemed the majority. I have no doubt that since then the pendulum has swung towards the "lifestylers".
I do however refer you to my personality type however, which I understand quite a lot about - ypur classic "thrill seeker" dosen't get excited by the average trip to tescos which can scare the pats off others..... (contextual and illuatrative point only)
Always come back to climbing though, reading guide books in the bog is still 2nd only to autotrader with an imaginary budget!
Oh and by the by, and am ridiculously and fantastically happy and quite amazed at life everyday. Its all good brotha. (my word I have been hanging out with Americans to much- haha)
Thats the whole point of this thread - not right or wrong - just a lens...
Probably a large influence in there for me. All of the others here just picked it up later on from another "thats an interesting outdoor sport - lets do that as well" point of view
What is interesting is I have a couple of mates that I introduced to climbing back in the UK, both have become as obsessed about it as I am and are loving it. Enthusiasm is infectious. (part of what I love about my job)
If it's all good, then it's all good :) On to your original question now... I used to think I was a climber, but then I had to re-evaluate things as I realised I was the only person around who was unconditionally available on any given weekend... Basically I was in exactly the same position it sounds like you're in now (except for the bit about being the best climber around!). So I threw myself into running, then discovered running in the mountains, which offered a perfect way of getting out in the mountains any time I wanted, regardless of whether there was a partner available... Hey presto, problem solved (although again, going back to the personality type, running in the mountains for me ended up being 100km trail races... but I've got a group out here who are into that too, and far deeper than me in some cases, so again, it's all good). The only consequence of all this though is that I felt/feel that I can no longer think of myself as a climber in the sense that I used to, but I'm cool with that, because I get so much more done in the mountains these days anyway. This winter I decided to rectify that though, and I'm currently on a personal journey to improve my winter alpine climbing, so who knows, I might just come out of this winter with a renewed vigour and motivation to focus on the climbing again... I doubt I'll ever ditch the mountain running though, it's far too satisfying, but I have to admit that a successful alpine route trumps any other activity I've ever enjoyed!
So that's a brief synopsis of my story, not so dissimilar to yours I guess. Glad to hear that you're enjoying things and that they're a lot more varied and interesting than you first implied :) Enjoy being an expat all you can... As ice.solo and I often discuss out here, it gives you options and allows you to inhabit a unique space that natives in their own country aren't really able to... That's valuable :)
Everything I do revolves around my climbing. Everything. I've done many other 'sports' (I don't consider climbing a sport, it's a way of life now) but nothing comes close in terms of enjoyment and committment. Even in my professional life, I really only do that to finance the climbing. That probably makes me a climber.
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