Is Climbing Your Life or Your Hobby?

Climbing Magazine Submission

The more I continued to grow as a climber, the more talk I heard about this difficult to describe climbing obssession and addiction. It seemed that climbing was something that started off as a hobby and quickly consumed someone’s life. People went into climbing innocently enough, and then there was just no escaping it. Once you start climbing, you always want to be climbing and it takes over everything.

It was easy to see why climbing would mean so much to people. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it makes you trust people and bond closely, it brings you on adventures to new parts of the world, and it keeps you healthy. Is it really bad for people to get obssessed? However, there is that other side that looms in the darkness. That question of should other things be more important? What about family, doing what you need to survive, having a job, etc. How much really are people giving up for it? There was a bit of fear over what the answer to that question might hold.

Road to Red Rocks

I’ve heard climbers say they couldn’t date anyone who was not a climber, or talk about a struggle to relate to non-climbers. What if someone started fully invested in climbing and then decided they didn’t want to anymore? Would they lose everyone and everything? Were relations with climbers just built on a superficial need to experience some false sense of human connection while still staying fully submerged in their passion?

This deep rooted obssession was conveyed almost as a warning the first times I heard it. The more I learned about the sport, the calmer I gradually felt. Sure there are some people out there willing to give it all up, as there are with any sport. There are also people who live and breathe climbing, but still have fulfilling family and social lives. If anything this climbing obsession seems to be doing more good by providing adventurers with a deeper sense of belonging, passion, and freedom. It seems many climbers have rich, fulfilling lives. Ultimately, it really depends on the individual and how they are impacted by the discovery of climbing and the lifestyle it offers.

I cannot say what causes people to seem so much more invested in climbing or how it becomes a lifestyle rather than a mere something to do. I’ve seen plenty of people who can pick it up one day and leave it the next just to return later. There are some people that escape climbing’s tight hold. So how can you know whether you are in it for a hobby or for a life?

Of course, I don’t possibly have the real answer for that, but I do have some signs I’ve seen of people, including myself, who have a strong attachment to it. This is really just for fun.

Do you dream of sending or see climbs when you close your eyes? This definitely effects me. When I’m working on a project, I’ll be working it out in my sleep later that night as well. The interesting thing is that sometimes my dreams inspire me with sends, and sometimes the struggle is so intense I find it hard to believe I’m dreaming. Shouldn’t climbing at least be easy in your sleep?

Do you find yourself planning vacations with climbing as the priority? Maybe you are supposed to be visiting family or going to a wedding, but if climbing courses through your blood stream, chances are high you are mapping out the closest boulders or cliffs before sending an RSVP.

red rocks

Do you see good weather conditions as a perfectly reasonable excuse for taking a day off from work? Hey, a lot of big business bosses are doing the same for golfing, why not climbing?

Do you find yourself becoming non-committal to things until you see the weather report? “Oh, you want me to come to a birthday party….maybe if it’s raining.”

Chatfield flood

Do you find yourself using climbing lingo for completely unrelated things? “My day was like a 5.10,” “This car is total choss.”

Do you find yourself using climbing as your reasons for normal self care habits? “I need 10 hours of sleep so I can send tomorrow,” or “I’m eating protein for dinner cause it builds my muscles for climbing.”

Do you see everything as a potential climb? “This brick restaurant is like all crimps?” “I could totally traverse that wooden beam.” “You could stem that building corner.”

Do you make career choices to best suit your climbing? “If I worked only 35 hours, I’d have more climbing time.” “I can’t work weekends, that’s when I climb.”

Do you spend your non climbing hours, reading about climbing and watching videos? You take a little work break to look at some photos and next thing you know it’s five o’clock. You’ll work harder tomorrow.

Do you refer to body parts for their climbing functions? “My crimpers hurt.” instead of “My fingers hurt.”

Do you find yourself dreamily looking at vans and imagining how to make them houses so you can live on the road?

Is your vision of your future life all imagines of you climbing in different places?

Can you easily justify spending over $100 on climbing shoes, but find yourself holding off on sneakers or work shoes, because you don’t have the money right now?

Whether climbing is your hobby or your life, we support you. Have fun with it and keep loving what you do.

josh pway


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