You know you're a climber when...

© Christheclimber

A recent forum thread titled 'You know you're a climber when...' prompted numerous responses, many of which will be all too accurate for a lot of climbers, yet they will proudly acknowledge their uncouth habits with a knowing smile. From climbing in places and on things we shouldn't be, to incessantly talking about grades, the weather and generally alienating ourselves further from the rest of society, it seems that you know you're a climber when climbing takes over your everyday life...

Wow Lycra pants!  © Christheclimber
Wow Lycra pants!
© Christheclimber, Sep 1988

With thanks to the UKC users who contributed to the thread and provided the content for this article.

You know you're a climber when...

  • Your best friend is hanging up next to your harness.
  • You nearly crash the car because you are looking at a grotty little crag instead of the road.
  • Reaching for a far away mug on the table puts you in mind of reaching for a hold.
  • Jonathan Ross' old chat show desk had you thinking about friend placements.
  • You drop-knee to put something in the fridge.
  • You still wear lycra regularly (or know people who do).
  • Your ideal girlfriend has a set of nuts.  

Tom shows off his nuts  © Wild Country Collection
Tom shows off his nuts
© Wild Country Collection

  • Other people's property becomes 'swag.'
  • You're climbing with a stranger and you call down to them, is it ok if I put your nuts in my mouth?
  • He's proposing and you say..."Get off your knees!"
  • You can't get clothes to fit comfortably over your forearms.
  • You get stuck in clothes in changing rooms because you forget before trying it on that in order to remove the top you will use your back muscles, so your back will expand and you get stuck.
  • You can see a viable line up the outside of your house, the local monument, any other structure that you pass.
  • You look forward to a "bad" winter. 
  • You've done something on grit.
  • You visit a factory and they ask your shoe size for safety boots and you reply, "9, but I can fit a 7 for 10 minutes."
  • You get seen regularly standing on one leg with the other leg, both arms and probably your head in a really odd position trying to demo the 'vital move' to a mate.​

    Synchronised Visualisation
    © Obi Wan, Mar 2007

  • You let your 2 year old son attempt to cross one of those playground suspended wire/rope bridges 5' off the ground with gaps bigger than him and you just stand there spotting him and telling him to flag out his leg.
  • You reach behind you whenever you notice your hands are a little sweaty.
  • You wonder why other 'sports people' don't go to the pub after they've done their exercise.
  • You read guide books on the toilet.
  • You are not capable of having a conversation unless it is about routes and grades.
  • You carry your shopping bags using only 1 finger.
  • You practice edging on all stairs you climb.
  • You close doors by crimping random parts of them and making it unbelievably difficult for yourself.
  • You walk across the office pinch gripping 2 reams of paper per hand when topping up the supplies at the photocopier.
  • You clear your desk at work to show your mate the desk traverse.

  • The weird knots of muscle on the outside of your elbow aren't weird anymore, they're just what arms look like.
  • You walk past stone walls and feel the rock texture.
  • You shake hands with someone and they remark on the rough, leather-like texture of your palms.
  • You use a toe hook to help get up off the sofa.
  • You only see your non climbing friends when it's raining.
  • Playing angry birds means trying not to upset seagulls.
  • You have to explain to your colleagues why you have bloody knuckles. And then you have to explain what "hand jamming" is. And then you have to explain why anyone would do that.​

Pete Whittaker throws in a fist jam at the end of Century Crack
© Wild Country Collection

  • You no longer seek validation as a climber.
  • You see a crack in a boulder when you're out walking - even with 'normal' people - and you can't resist putting your hand in it to see how good a jam it is. And if it's a good one, doing it several times.
  • You drop your keys at work and shout "ROCK!" as loud as you can.
  • You tie your partner to the bed using clove hitches.
  • You notice good gear placements in the cracks between paving stones and kerbs.
  • You cancel your indoor session in the morning because of a bad back and then you go bouldering in the evening because you just can't help it.
  • You sleep with straight arms because of tennis elbow.
  • You use a combination of a mantleshelf + bridging to get onto the kitchen worktop to reach the top shelf cupboards when normal people would use a chair.
  • You try to hand jam between the banister and the wall rather than just holding on like a normal person. 
  • You cannot use your touch screen/iPhone because chalk has dried your finger tips out and the rock has worn them smooth.

Mr. Flapper  © Enty
Mr. Flapper
© Enty, Mar 2011

  • You've looked at the possibility of/attempted moving around parts of your home without touching the floor, using door frames, skirting boards, dado rails and the wall shapes as hand and foot holds.
  • You leave minging public toilets by pulling on the handle with a mono.
  • You throw your shoes in the bag when going anywhere "Just in case."
  • You gaze at part of a building and when someone asks what you're looking at you respond with "I think that'll go."
  • You try to climb forbidden walls.
  • Instead of taking another step so you can reach something, you toe hook.
  • You nearly crash the car because you are too pumped to hold the steering wheel.
  • You can't remember the last time you went on a non-climbing holiday.
  • You think flip flops, a beanie hat and a down jacket/branded outdoor jacket is pub wear/looks cool.
  • Last-minute social events irritate you because you had a session planned on the 45 degree board.
  • Sleeping under a bridge when you're staying in Spain becomes a perfectly reasonable thing to do.
  • You avoid spending money to the point of madness.
  • You are always flagging to reach for stuff.
  • You do the V2 boulder problem to enter air conditioning units at work. Instead of using the ladder.
  • The 'what have you been up to?' conversations are just as boring as the next man's because all you ever respond with is 'climbing.'
  • Your pocket money is actually spent on petrol to go climbing rather than on random climbing gear.
  • The only things that you worry about when buying a new car (10+ years old of course) are:

1. Can I fit more than one bouldering mat in it?
2. Is it cheap to run?

a well packed car in france  © Pinkney
a well packed car in france
© Pinkney, Dec 2010

  • You drop the hire car off and leave as quickly as possible.
  • On a trip you very seriously consider finishing the half-done beers on the deserted table next to you.
  • You check the 5 day forecast about 17 times a day and your non-climbing neighbours and work colleagues always ask you what the weather is going to do.
  • The term 'Dirtbag' becomes a badge of honour.



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14 May, 2015
Guilty. To around 85% of the charges at least.
14 May, 2015
Slander. I'll find the old lycra and where them in Kalymnos in October, beware!
15 May, 2015
A lot of good ones, I would add: - You've had to hold a pint glass between your forearms because you overdid it at the wall and your fingers don't work properly. - Loft ladders seem like a pointless extravagance. - You've fallen off the outside of your house. - "Finger tight" can lead to stripped threads. - You've sized down regular footwear so they edge better.
15 May, 2015
15 May, 2015
I have fallen off the outside of my house. Also mangled the doors fames with ice axes and knackered the skirting board with shoes!
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