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Why do you climb?
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Jun 10, 2013
I've asked a number of climbers "Why do you climb?" or "Why do you like climbing?". Ironically, most of the people I've asked ponder the question for a few seconds and can't give an answer. So now I turn to you out of curiosity. I'm hoping this forum can shed light on the fact that even I have a hard time answering the question. My friends and family often ask how such a "dangerous" and demanding activity can be so fun and addicting.

Why do you climb?
Joined Oct 30, 2012
1 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Black Dike 12/25/11
The bitches.. APBT1976
Joined Nov 8, 2011
281 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Me at the good rest on Doggie Do
Searching is your friend... Weston L
From Summerlin, NV
Joined Mar 14, 2010
890 points
Jun 10, 2013
Easy question to answer.

If its a 5.10 or a 5.5 when im on the rock im not thinking about work, life, or bills. Only thing running thru my head is how im not going to fall this time, Im i really going to make that clip. Is that chalk mark really a hold :l . Its all the same with climbing, bombing a single track on my bike its a great way to remember there is more then just the rat race of life.
From Evanston, WY
Joined Sep 24, 2009
134 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: MSP, NY
No more continents to explore, just virgin veritcal rock. I have an exploratory energy/curiosity.

Freedom in every sense.

I like to be humbled, "put in my place" and rock climbing proved/showed(s me I'm not a badass. It keeps my/me ego grounded and in turn sets me up to transfer the balance/energy I find while climbing into the rest of my life.

Its a lifestyle that I easily flow with versus say basketball, football, any traditional sport. Climbing is wonderfully convienent for the nomad, the rolling stone.
Rock Jock
From Pennsylvania
Joined Dec 5, 2012
4,653 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: ...
It's fun! Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Joined Oct 13, 2002
2,541 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: El Cajon Mtn. Leonids. 5.9.
^"The Bitches" ha
I dont consider climbing as dangerous. Everyone knows the statistics about how dangerous driving is in comparison to other things. We get comfortable doing dangerous things and it no longer feels that dangerous. And when it does get a bit frightening... oooo what a rush. :)
For me, a good reminder of how amazing life is, is standing right at the foot of what might be the end. You learn to appreciate a lot after a scary incident. Kind of like when you watch a loved one in a movie die you might look at your kids and think, damn... they arent ever goin outside again.
Plus, climbing is peaceful. A freedom to get away from everything. Society, politics, home issues, whatever it is, stand 20 feet above your biggest c3 and tell me about your "problems."

I like this by John Long,
“At some time in your climbing career, be it one or twenty years it you’ll seriously question why you are climbing at all. This is nothing less than squaring off with the Main Question of why we are alive, what are we doing, where are we going? The Main Question sneaks into the context of climbing because, well, because were climbers.”
From San Diego, California
Joined Aug 22, 2012
147 points
Jun 10, 2013
People ask me this and it's tough to answer. It's not a one word answer, and I guess I could sum it up in "fun" but I think people want to know why it is fun.

I could say the view, but I didn't start outside, started inside. The point is not just about the top, or else I'd just use a ladder or get on the easiest routes. It's not being up high, because at work I stare out a window all day about 450 feet up, with a view of tall buildings, the Ohio river, and looking at the rolling hills of Kentucky. The movements feel good... but sometimes when I'm hanging on a small rock I think "why am I here?" And is it to forget about bills and life? I could forget about bills by meditating. And climbing creates bills for me - all the gear, plane tickets and gas money to get to places.

It's just an addiction. I guess if I have to explain it, it's like unlocking a puzzle, with both a physical and mental aspect. There is room for improvement, and measured improvement is fun. It's more varied than just running, I like seeing improvment in running, but it's also more than just getting faster, you also learn body position, gear management. Then you discover there are great places around the world with varied terrain, rocks, routes so the newness never stops.
Ana Tine
Joined Dec 7, 2012
60 points
Jun 10, 2013
I often have nothing else to do. Bud Martin
From Bozeman, MT
Joined Apr 15, 2010
403 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: ...
"I think people want to know why it is fun."

Different question.



I love all the deep and philosophical answers some people give. Some even bring in spiritual aspects.

Fuck that! It's nothing more than playing around on the rocks.
From Yucca Valley, CA
Joined Oct 13, 2002
2,541 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: me
its the disease... Ellenore Zimmerman
Joined May 25, 2013
75 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Temple crag, dark star
Facebook pictures, duh David prsn
From Bishop
Joined Oct 17, 2012
100 points
Jun 10, 2013
Thanks for all the great feedback already! As expected, people have different reasons as to why they climb and explaining it can get real philosophical real quick.

For me, I think the addiction is similar in that I feel indescribable freedom from everything else that is going on in life. When I'm on the rock, nothing else is on my mind. It's not that I think "I can't think about work/life, I need to concentrate on climbing". It more of "How do I get to that next hold?" Other thoughts don't even enter my mind.

I also like ChaseLeoncini's quote of "stand 20 feet above your biggest c3 and tell me about your "problems." I think that pretty well sums up how climbing puts perspective on life's problems!
Joined Oct 30, 2012
1 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: I eat crack for breakfast.
Locker wrote:
"I think people want to know why it is fun." Different question. ;-)

Long story short: I completely agree with your earlier statement "Because it's fun."

We could ask the same question ("why is it fun?") about basketball or hiking and give them, or any other sport, the same mystique we give climbing by asking "why do you do it?"

People don't rationalize themselves into climbing. They just grab some holds, get a little spooked, survive, feel strong, feel psyched, and do it again. Eventually, we do have to confront the riskiness of climbing relative to basketball or hiking and have to rationalize the continued exposure (like a smoker rationalizing smoking regularly) by either denial (I'm in control, that'll never happen to me) or a cost-benefit analysis (climbing is worth it because the excitement, exercise, exposure and experiences add more to my life than climbing is likely to take away from it, especially considering how I'm kinda in control).

We could ask "why is getting spooked fun, especially when it's legitimate spook?" to which I'll respond with empirical evidence of people skydiving, going on rollercoasters, running from bulls, and doing any manner of absurd, exciting stunts, and then point us to some biochemistry papers that will bore someone to tears. When we're sufficiently bored sitting in our dark room chatting about biochemistry, I'll have a friend barge into the room with a very realistic gorilla costume and scare the crap out of us, and then she'll take off the mask and we'll all laugh and remember that instant more than the boring ass biochemistry. Adrenaline is kinda fun. Climbers don't knowingly do it for the sake of adrenaline (I'm actually quite miserable when I'm climbing and get an adrenaline rush - that usually means something bad could happen if I fuck up), but somewhere in that biochemical symphony is a reward system that makes getting spooked fun, and that's why we climb the second time.

Some people put more emphasis on the problem solving aspect of climbing, but they could just as well be playing chess or doing math or any number of other puzzles, so why are they climbing? They could be climbing by historical contingency (they got lucky to find climbing before chess or math or video games) or they find that climbing is more justifiable because it gets them outdoors, gets them exercise, and makes them feel cool because saying you "rock climb" makes you seem hardcore to people who don't rock climb and it gives you social capital through the rock climbing community (it's like being Jewish except without the lifelong guilt). So there may be other motivations that we tell ourselves besides adrenaline for why climbing is fun, but I would be very surprised to see someone stick with climbing if they just climbed 100 ft of fascinating problems on a treadmill located outdoors that never let their waist get more than 3 ft above the ground.

I'll finish with a Hunter S. Thompson quote:

"People who claim to know jackrabbits will tell you they are primarily motivated by Fear, Stupidity and Craziness. But I have spent enough time in jackrabbit country to know that most of them lead pretty dull lives; they are bored with their daily routines: eat, fuck, sleep, hop around a bush now & then . . .No wonder some of them drift over the line into cheap thrills once in a while; there has to be a powerful adrenaline rush in crouching by the side of a road, waiting for the next set of headlights to come along, then streaking out of the bushes with split-second timing and making it across to the other side just inches in front of the speeding front wheels.

Why not? Anything that gets the adrenaline moving like a 440 volt blast in a copper bathtub is good for the reflexes and keeps the veins free of cholesterol . . . but too many adrenaline rushes in any given time-span has the same bad effect on the nervous system as too many electro-shock treatments are said to have on the brain: After a while you start burning out the circuits . . ."
Alex Washburne
Joined Apr 29, 2010
74 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: "Gods walk among us" 12.b
Dont think I will ever know... but im having fun! Riley Evans
Joined Jun 2, 2010
53 points
Jun 10, 2013
'Cause it's stupid and I'm kinda dumb. Tug
Joined Jul 8, 2007
6 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Middle St. Vrain
Because climbing is a complicated, never ending puzzle with serious consequences. The mental reward for this kind of problem solving far out weigh any reason NOT to go climbing. Adam B
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Joined Oct 14, 2008
295 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Chillin' at City of Rocks
What else are you supposed to do Monday-Sunday?????? Princess Mia
From Vail
Joined May 22, 2006
505 points
Jun 10, 2013
I don't get it. Why do people always want to justify to themselves and others why they climb? I can't think of any other hobbies/sports/lifestyles where people continuously question and justify why they do it. Nobody had existential discussions about why they play volleyball in the park or why they love paintball or blowjobs or any other meaningless diversion. Wyatt H
Joined Oct 29, 2010
14 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: CoR
Locker wrote:
It's fun!

I have never had so much fun scaring myself in all my life.
From Salt Lake City, Ut
Joined Jul 18, 2011
211 points
Jun 10, 2013
To get to the top doug rouse
From Denver, CO.
Joined Apr 15, 2008
836 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: tanuki
A lonely impulse of delight...

and the hot bitches!
NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Joined Dec 6, 2009
71 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: El Capitan reservoir from the top of ECM
I climb because I like rappelling. Mike wand
From San Marcos
Joined Dec 19, 2011
10 points
Jun 10, 2013
let's not trivialize the sport.

Locker wrote:
It's fun!


...and i'll top it off with mallory: "Because it's there".
Joined Apr 9, 2007
22 points
Jun 10, 2013
Because I suck at chess. Then again, I suck at climbing too.

And because skiing is just so crazy expensive these days.
Greg Halliday
From Spanish Fork, UT
Joined Jun 26, 2011
9 points
Jun 10, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: Ringo at Riverside Boulder.
Healthier than shootin heroin. s.price
From PS,CO
Joined Dec 1, 2010
1,381 points

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