Today’s story is part of a series I’m going to call “Old Dogs, New Tricks” until someone gets offended and makes me change it. Scott has been climbing for a couple of years now, and his enthusiasm and excitement is contagious.
When Erin first asked me if I would be interested in contributing something for the new “Stronger Than Yesterday” blog, my reaction was “of course”. I mean, Erin, ERIN, is asking me, and I couldn’t say no to her. (ed note: I did not make him say that.) Besides, who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to write about rock climbing?
I first started climbing with any regularity about 2 years ago at the ripe old age of 43, which is not really the ideal age to begin climbing. Oh, if only I had discovered rock climbing at my son’s age, or even younger, really! Speaking of my son, Philip, he is the reason that I began climbing. So, let’s start the story there.
Philip first discovered Peak Experiences through a friend’s birthday party, but really got roped in (get ready for plenty of climbing puns!) after taking the Learn The Ropes belay class, which I took with him. I can’t honestly say that I was as addicted to climbing as Philip was after the class. I was definitely appreciative of the abilities required to ‘get up the wall’; it truly is harder (pun!) than it looks. But, I wasn’t hooked like he was. It took me more time to get to that level of addiction.
I can’t even say initially that I was very supportive of our climbing. When we would come to Peak to climb, I refused to rent climbing shoes. OK, I was being a little cheap, but I didn’t really understand their purpose. I had no idea at the time how big of a mistake that was! I mean, I managed to climb a 5.8 in sneakers, which in retrospect was fairly impressive for a novice. In spite of my unintentional sabotage, Philip’s love for climbing never waned.
Actually, it became inspiring.
When Philip and I started climbing, we were about the same ability level, top roping 5.8’s and bouldering V0’s. I remember climbing my first V1 in the back overhang area and being so excited (shout out to Ashley W. for the help)! It was a sense of accomplishment like no other.
But, this was about the last time that Philip and I climbed at the same level. He has since grown to projecting V6’s and 5.12’s. I’m around the V2/5.10 range. Not too bad for an old guy, but not where I want to be.
Ultimately, I would say that Philip and I came to love bouldering the most. I spend 95% of my time in the bouldering cave (yes, I own a harness), and this is where my addiction spawned. I mean, who can resist the bouldering cave? This is the place that friendships are made! This is where I met all of my climbing friends. The close proximity, the helpful deciphering of bouldering problems, the friendly advice and climbing tips, all lead to making friends.
And, really, that is the crux (pun!) of my climbing addiction.
My son and I have become friends with as many awesome, talented, smart, funny, diverse people as anywhere has to offer. These are people that I literally trust my life to.
But the thing that convinced me that climbing is the best sport in the world is how supportive of each other climbers are. I was so impressed hearing nothing but encouraging words from teenagers and adults – shouts of ‘you can do it!’, ‘you’ve got this!’, ‘come on!’ – that you just don’t hear in other places. There is no trash talk and tearing each other down, only support, encouragement, advice, help. That is the climbing community that I have grown to love.
I have a lot more that I would like to accomplish in my climbing life, but I have already accomplished a lot by sharing with my son all of our ups and downs (pun!), and creating friendships that I hope will last a lifetime.
That’s what climbing means to me.