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Is climbing important?
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Oct 21, 2009
Last weekend, with the snow on the way, Mark and I pulled the fixed ropes and all our gear off the remaining unfinished problems at Empire. We both left for the season without completing the final perfect red points on some difficult problems. On the way down I consoled myself with the thought that this was just climbing and was, therefore, not important. But is it true that climbing is not important? Climbing at even the highest standard will not start a war, stop a war, change the political boundaries, cure cancer, or uncover an unlimited renewable energy source. So how important can it be? Is it as important as carving the likeness of a young girl into a block of marble? Is it as important as painting the night sky through myopic and astygmatic eyes? Is it important enough to justify all the work, all the training, all the struggle. Is it important enough to justify the pain, the injury, and the death that has stalked us this year? Or is it enough to call it important simply because we believe it is important?

In one of his videos Micha Dash answered the question "why do you climb" in what may be the final definitive way. He said that it was difficult to answer that question because it was stupid question. QED (at last!). He wasn't asked if climbing was important, but I'd like to know how he might have responded.
Richard M. Wright
From Lakewood, CO
Joined Jan 1, 2001
9,484 points
Administrator
Oct 21, 2009
Belay
I think that it can have a broader importance in the study of the human psyche; I'd love to know what makes Alex Honnold different than me, since our physical attributes and abilities don't seem to be all that different. He clearly has something that the rest of us don't (or, as my girlfriend pointed out it's just as likely that he's missing something that the rest of us have) and I think that in itself is a fascinating look into what makes us individuals.

I have long asked myself what it is about climbers that makes them want to climb. We all know that people who rock climb come in all forms, from the bro-bros in the gym to the dude who's been eating way too many mushrooms out in the desert for the last 15 years, but it's undeniable that when you get those two people to sit at the same campfire there is something common between them. I love observing that, and I wish I could understand it better.

Everyone has goals, dreams, and benchmarks that they set for themselves and I think that climbers tend to be climbers because the sport satisfies these things. You don't see many people who climb solely for athletic purposes (as you might with running, weight lifting, swimming, etc.) so I think that there is something more to it that is important to us on an individual level. It won't stop a war, but it will keep my head in a place that I have a hard time getting to without it.
Peter Franzen
From Phoenix, AZ
Joined Jan 1, 2001
4,021 points
Oct 21, 2009
Wide abgle!
For me personaly climbing's important, it alows my mind to concentrate on one task. Climbing turns into kind of liberation from ALL probelms personal and on a larger scale as well as gives me a an amazing sense of acomplishment. Otherwise whats the point?

Like you said, the money and time spent, the threat of injury and death, would seem like a complete waste of resources and time. Each individual has thier own reasons for making climbing worth it and important. Climbing will never solve anything on a large scale but, it defenetly has done a lot for each one of us personaly.
Andrew James C
From Portland, OR
Joined Sep 15, 2009
549 points
Oct 21, 2009
Puffy jackets and Happy Boulders
I think climbing is more important than filing taxes, and less important than masturbation. Bryan G
From Yosemite
Joined Nov 17, 2007
4,609 points
Oct 21, 2009
Dappled Mare
Bryan Gohn wrote:
I think climbing is more important than filing taxes, and less important than masturbation.


Quote of the day. And, I agree.
ShibbyShane
Joined Jan 30, 2009
23 points
Oct 21, 2009
as cells in the greater earthly organism, it is in fact critical that climbing occurs. if at the time of ascension, it is our dharma to be climbing, than our actions acomplish something absolutely vital. However, some times (and not often) we would find greater harmony and allignment from not climbing.
Someone however, must be holding that sector down.
Go climbing next time it is raining outside. Less people are climbing at that moment in that area. But stone energy must still be expended! It is in fact more at hand, and sending potential is elevated.

Mother earth really digs it when you free solo naked in the rain. (Your friends and family however get pissed.)


Don't you think that the rocks absolutely love it when you climb on them?
mikedclimbs
Joined Mar 5, 2009
0 points
Oct 21, 2009
Me and Spearhead
In the grand scheme of things...no.
Personally, for me to maintain my sanity...yes.
Brent Apgar
From Out of the Loop
Joined Oct 20, 2007
141 points
Oct 21, 2009
sending Hard Day at the Orifice
from a practical standpoint i've made lots of great friends, improved my overall fitness and health, and gained confidence in myself and my ability to do things.

so yes, to me it's important. and since "important" is completely subjective depending on who you're asking and what angle you take, that's the only way we can answer it.
Jon Ruland
From Tucson, AZ
Joined May 31, 2007
706 points
Oct 22, 2009
napping with the dog, the best damn dog on earth.
do YOU think so?








-that is the answer.
winston
From Boulder, CO
Joined Mar 6, 2006
56 points
Oct 22, 2009
Winston handled the philosophical aspect of the question.
To add another subjective view to the table. If climbing does not start wars...then it is important. Climbing can build community and tear down boarders. I have also seen localism and patriotism brood in the climbing world.

Personally, climbing gives a purpose to muscles that many people neglect. It further provides fulfillment to the operator behind those muscles. Finally, few of us will find a cause for cancer, nor climb the nose of El Cap, but most anybody can share a laugh, give love, and get up a local crag, for free, important?
Forestvonsinkafinger
From Iowa
Joined Mar 6, 2008
2,900 points
Oct 22, 2009
Everything is important, and nothing is important, depending on your perspective. And your perspective is constantly changing. We all have to decide what is important in every given moment.

That said, I think I'll have to try free soloing naked in the rain and see how that affects my perspective. I got nailed by rain once on Spearhead and I'm glad I wasn't free soloing or naked that day!

I think it is a great question. Climbing usually involves quite a bit of effort, commitment, expense, and risk. So I imagine that most climbers are eventually confronted with this question.

Richard, I liked your reference to Micah's response about why he climbs--I remember that well from the video. Most folks can dig up a bunch of superficial (not meant in a bad way) reasons why they climb. But for people who are truly passionate about climbing, I think that the real reason is something that couldn't really be expressed in words. The closest I can come to it is that I feel more alive when I'm climbing. That makes it important to me.

BTW. Really enjoyed winston and Peter Franzen's responses.
Eric J
From 50000;74000
Joined May 18, 2005
3 points
Oct 22, 2009
Stabby
In the sense that if you compare our physical presence in this universe to something tangible on earth that we exist in a space smaller than in pinhead within the whole of the Superdome, then no.

In the sense that if all the time of human experience was equated to universal time, we are a camera flash in a period of 10,000 years, then no.

In the sense that for 99.999999% of us we are only born to eat, poop, reproduce and then die, no.

In the sense that it beats not climbing, yes.

Mike Lane
From Centennial, CO
Joined Jan 21, 2006
839 points
Oct 22, 2009
I think it is extremely important...eventhough, yes it does start wars...Bolt wars in CT leading to chopped holds and bolts=degrading the rock, etc. etc.

I think it is important because it provides us with a way to connect with the earth. We all have been born in a time where humans slowly but surely have been destroying the world due to greed. Unfortunately, what is done is done. With climbing (most) people gain more respect for the earth and in turn treat it better. Most climbers practice "leave no trace" with regards to climbing areas and I think the awareness they spread IS very important.

Of course you have the flip side of that. If you look at what has been happening with Everest over the last few decades (of course I have never been there, just from what I read), it seems to be a disaster of old gear, dead bodies, and people stepping over others in need just to get to the top. Again greed is found everywhere.

But I think that for the most part climbing gives people a good escape from all the nonsense of the world that we were born into. It provides us with a physical activity in which we can push ourselves. It tests our patience and stimulates creative thought. It provides us with a goal to work for and something to aspire to. Of course it can be a self-interested goal that is not going to cure cancer or feed the hungry. But I think that along the way of pursuing your goal in climbing, people tend to do a lot of good during that journey for mankind and mother earth. And that is why I think it is important. just my 2 cents

oh yea...the views are pretty sweet as well

as for alex honnold....i give him a lot of respect, i wish i had 1/10th of his talent and mental strength. But I think that if you solo it should be for your own personal growth, not to show the world how ballsy you are. I understand that when you solo something you want to tell the world of your accomplishment. I get it. But i think its stupid and egotistical. I feel like it takes away from the respect that people should have for climbing.
Francisco Di Poi
From Boulder, CO
Joined Sep 11, 2009
26 points
Oct 22, 2009
In Lofoten, Norway
Many climbers (including me) have expressed that when they climb they think nothing of their everyday lives and problems, and focus 100% at the task at hand... living in the moment so to say.
That's what is important. Climbing does it for some, meditation for others, writing books, hiking, painting, kayaking, sculptering, running... you name it. We all have a need for this 'meditation' time in our lives, and if you ask me, those who do not take the time to for it are more likely to be troubled humans than those who do (not saying you can't be troubled anyway).
Now if you ask why climbing is a prefered method over others, I'd say that the question is as meaningless as asking why some people prefer apples over pears and vice versa.
Michael Collins
Joined Mar 14, 2008
28 points
Oct 22, 2009
Pete belays 2nd pitch Little corner
I think we climb to relate to our ancestral habit of climbing for survival--gathering food like birds and their eggs, fruit, etc. Also to escape human and non-human predators. We climb in modern times to "exercise" this tendency. Just like people hunt or fish or garden for recreation. Thus climbing is important as recreation. Peter Pitocchi
Joined Oct 4, 2009
104 points
Oct 22, 2009
There is a study (Nat. Geo?) about how bi-pedalism may have begun in trees. In that sense, Peter is on to something...an inherent drive to escape by climbing. Forestvonsinkafinger
From Iowa
Joined Mar 6, 2008
2,900 points
Oct 22, 2009
I dunno, it seems to me getting down can be more so


Climbing actually does have a prominent place in our history and is used in various mtn combat, technical combat, and rescue units. So in a sense, it does serve an important purpose, yes.

Maybe our place is only within recreational climbing; this still does offer very high level of training, exploration, and free expression for our country; so again, I see it as an important part of our culture as well.

Technical climbing is just a different breed; it doesn't mean it's not important, it's just a different perspective of importance.
Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
1,494 points
Oct 22, 2009
Bob's Been to Joshua Tree!
Anything that increases joy in the world is good and important.

As temporary relief from ADD or as meditation, climbing is important.

In an early less secure time, perhaps many climbers would have been warriors. It seems that climbing is an important way to channel that energy.
BrianH
From Santa Fe NM
Joined Aug 17, 2009
54 points
Oct 22, 2009
I am a neandertal.
brentapgar wrote:
In the grand scheme of things...no. Personally, for me to maintain my sanity...yes.

I would argue that the good mood that climbing gives you might be more important to the grand scheme of things than you realize...
Coeus
From a botched genetics experiment
Joined Apr 24, 2008
46 points
Oct 22, 2009
Being new to the climbing world, I've found climbing to be very important to my everyday life.
Climbing challenges the mind and body in many different way. Like previously stated, it tests the muscles you would never use. It tests courage and patience. It tests your will to complete the task at hand. It also tests your ability to connect the gap between your physical and mental capabilites. I've found out more and more how to relate my climbing to my daily activity. I've learned more about my body and mental state. Climbing is my individual task; every has their own problem on a route they need to overcome. Since I started climbing, I've learned that I need to trust my feet more... Overall, what else does this represent?

So, yes. Personally, climbing is important.
But it does vary person to person.
N/A
Joined Oct 19, 2009
35 points
Oct 22, 2009
Function over fashion.  My newest pair of climbing...
Climbing is important to me. Legs Magillicutty
From Littleton
Joined May 28, 2002
815 points
Oct 22, 2009
Me too!
It was important to me, but it isn't anymore. I thought I'd just take a break, but now I think I'm done with it altogether. Although, for some reason I can't bring myself to sell my Cobras. :-| J. Fox
From Black Hawk, CO
Joined Mar 29, 2007
1,525 points
Oct 22, 2009
you could donate them, eh???


Legs, it's always about you.

you, you you you
Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
1,494 points
Oct 22, 2009
Leading an unknown route.  Photo credit: Sam Lange...
no Kaner
From Eagle
Joined Jul 3, 2006
2,407 points
Oct 22, 2009
Bob's Been to Joshua Tree!
Jeff F. wrote:
It was important to me, but it isn't anymore. I thought I'd just take a break, but now I think I'm done with it altogether. Although, for some reason I can't bring myself to sell my Cobras. :-|


Ha! I took a break for 4 years. It didn't stick. Now here I am spraying on da intertubes and getting out there the same old bumblie I've always been.
BrianH
From Santa Fe NM
Joined Aug 17, 2009
54 points
Oct 22, 2009
Is anything we do important? It is, if we think so.

Having said that, I think an interesting question to ask is, what ABOUT climbing is important to YOU? It is the grades your achieving? Connecting with the outdoors? Winning a comp? Stabbing an FA? Traveling? Feeding the ego? Freedom of movement/self expression? Pure love of the movement? Experiencing bliss? Spending time with friends? Exploration?

I used to be addicted to grades and accomplishments or failures. Now, I'm finding the pure enjoyment of movement unique to climbing, mental massage, the simplicity of it, inner exploration, and spending time with my friends to be of greatest importance to me.
Brandy Persson
From Vail, CO
Joined Sep 19, 2009
5 points


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