/ Do you climb or are you a climber?

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robjob - on 17 Dec 2012
Evening all, had some interesting reflections on climbing a motivation recently and others view of climbing. For those who have every read any of my recent tweets or posts will know that I now split my year out here in Bolivia in a little city where there is a small core of climbers (I mean small - like 6-10 people in the whole city)

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?
Skyfall - on 17 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

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.
stoneback - on 17 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:
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!
Jon Stewart - on 17 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

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.
robjob - on 17 Dec 2012
In reply to stoneback: Yeah I get that life gets in the way, I've been through pretty dry spells of climbing because of life based nonsense, work or whatever. However my point was that I was always a "climber" even when not climbing I was dreaming of it, planning it, reading guidebooks, scheming night climbs because I had no time.

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.

Blue Straggler - on 17 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

> with everything I do/eat/choose I think "how will this affect my climbing"

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.
Blue Straggler - on 17 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:
> I don't get it when others don't get from it what I do.

That's a real shame.
robjob - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Jon Stewart: Maybe my post came over as a bit performance related and I did not mean it like that at all. If I was only ever doing vdiffs or could do f9as it wouldn't matter, its what you prioritise in your life that Im getting at.

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.

robjob - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler: No unpleasantness taken, I understand, Its what I choose to do. However If you knew me I doubt that you would say that I have closed myself off to interesting experiences. I seize em all! just the climbing ones are the ones that I perhaps value the most.

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
Blue Straggler - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:
> 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.

But some people have MORE than one passion / reason to get up in the mornings!
John Stainforth - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

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.
robjob - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler: Very true, and I respect and applaud those people. Maybe I will be a bit controversial now.... Anyone else struggle to understand those who merely plod-along in mundanity and with in a bubble wrapped comfort never wishing to explore their boundaries or "life to it fullest"

*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)

stewieatb on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

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.
Kimono - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:
i neither climb nor am i a climber

am now a kitesurfer and mountain-biker....very happy
ice.solo - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

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.
Ben Sharp - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:
> Others just seem to have climbing as the same priority in their life as golf, or tennis...

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.
jkarran - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

> So what do you reckon, are you a climber... or do you just climb?

I've been a climber (a very mediocre one) but I think upon reflection I'm currently just someone who climbs.

GrahamD - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

The acid test has to be whether you read climbing guidebooks in the bog.
TonyG - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:
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!
michaelc - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:
> 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)
I wonder if you are defining yourself so purely as a reaction to the environment you find yourself in. i.e. you are in a setting with few climbers (you said under 10?) and those climbers are pretty casual. So you become "the climber", and I'm sure some treat you as such.

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.
Ben Abbott - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to GrahamD:

That'll be me then
Jamie B - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

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".
Flinticus - on 18 Dec 2012
Oh hard that. In my dreams & wishes I am a climber but not in reality. Coming late to climbing (40), my life was fairly full already and, if looking at how I spend my free time, I am first a dog companion (as I spend about 1.5-2hrs per day walking my dog and that's not something I can or want to put aside), then a hill walker (again I don't want to put this aside: I can do this with my mutt, go camping & let go / roll in the dirt). However, if in the position of your group of friends I would be jumping at the opportunities they seem to be passing up and I would love to have got into this younger (though saying that, when I was in my 20s I was convinced I would spend at least several more decades clubbing as that was my obsession then(2-3 times per week).
robjob - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to TonyG: Interesting on that one, although its far to early for a coherent reply. Your right in view point perspective in part. Persoanlly from a "all you can get excited about is climbing" point you are in some ways right and in some ways wrong. In a life thats has contained in the last year, hacking thru the African Junlge, tracking animals in the rainforest, leaning another language (again) and achieving some of the things I have dreamed about for a long time climbing wise and work wise I certainly have been excited about other things.

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)
robjob - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to michaelc: Yeah the Expat thing can be true - I've seen that with heritage as well. The other way round I think mate for me though, personally although we all get along swimmingly I defiantly ousted (non intentionally) a couple of the others from the top dog climber status here as I am way more experienced and skilled. (just the way it is - Im am training to be MIA)

Thats the whole point of this thread - not right or wrong - just a lens...
robjob - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to Jamie Bankhead: I think you make a cracking point there - I started climbing in the late 90's when I was about 15 - grew up in the sport reading about a lot of heros for whom it was definitely a lifer thing. They re-arranged everything to go climbing not slotted in climbing as and when it happened.

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)

TonyG - on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:
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
Fraser on 18 Dec 2012
In reply to robjob:

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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