When I was unemployed, out of boredom I decided to join the local climbing gym and attend their rock climbing class. And I was immediately hooked. I told Jack, ‘You WILL like this climbing thing. You should try this…’ the rest is history.
We started climbing regularly, both indoors and outdoors. After awhile I started noticing similarities between climbing and traveling.
Both activities require tons of time and preparation and usually more money than we can afford.
Other reasons why traveling is just like rock climbing:
1. It looks more dangerous and reckless than it actually is
Is it safe? Aren’t you afraid of (____)? Isn’t it dangerous?
If we climb while we’re drunk with 10 year old equipment that’s been laying around in a pool of battery acid — no, it’s not safe. As a matter of fact, it’s very dangerous. And yes, we’ll be very afraid of (____).
But with proper equipment, knowledge and a big dose of common sense, climbing like traveling, can be safe.
The key is to only do things that you’re comfortable with. Nobody is forcing you to do an overhanging route with a high probability of decking…. Just like nobody’s forcing you to sneak into Tibet without proper permit or buy illegal drugs in Singapore.
It’s your choice. Use common sense. And look after each other.
2. Common sense is your best friend
It doesn’t matter how new and how top-notch your equipments are, you can’t succeed without plenty of common sense. Do you know that most climbing accidents happen not from equipment failure but from human errors?
Double check your equipment, and view your surrounding.
Does the route look dodgy? Are the bolts rusty and loose?
Is that thunder carrying cloud I see up ahead beyond this lightning-attracting granite I’m about to climb?
Even if it’s the route you’ve been dreaming of for years, if it looks unsafe, leave the ego behind and climb something else…
3. It’s not for everyone
Some people are happy to have their feet firmly planted on the ground, just like some people are content working desk jobs and living in suburbia.
And that’s completely fine.
Sometimes I envy them as I’m hanging on for dear life, scaring myself shitless on a route that seems to go nowhere. You might think they’re missing out on something great, and it’s natural to try to convince them that hey, this is fun.
You want to shout out, ‘EVERYBODY! Hanging on at the end of the rope 400 ft off the ground with bleeding fingertips is FUN!’
No wonder they look at you like you’re crazy — and in a way, they might be right.
4. Plenty of tips flying around, but not all of them will work for you
Climbing community is a very supportive community. People give each other betas (tips on how to solve a route) and cheer each other on a climb.
But in the end it’s your own judgment whether or not to trust the advices/tips that have been given. Tips given for a male who’s 5’11” in height will not work for wee 5 foot-tall me. Different body sizes require different techniques.
There’s no one single right way to do things.
Take all the advices that are out there with a grain of salt and find out which ones will for for you.
5. You get to go to beautiful places and meet interesting people
That’s what I love about climbing and traveling in general. You can’t NOT meet people. Well, you can… you’ve just got to try really hard.
Maybe that’s why we’re drawn to these two activities — beautiful scenery, local cultures, and meeting people who share the same passion as you do. Although every now and then you do get to meet them ‘bad apples’ of the community.
They’re still interesting in their own way, of course.
6. Do what’s fun for YOU, not what others say is fun
I’m not the bravest or the most competitive climber. I love top roping. I hate leading… I really do. I don’t find it fun. Others have tried to tell me that to be a proper climber, I have to be comfortable with falling or leading…
I used to force myself to listen to the advises of these much better climber, then I realised that I’ve stopped having fun. It’s just not fun anymore… Now, I don’t care about ‘must-do’ activities — I will do what’s fun for me.
Climbers and travelers can be pretty very passionate about what they do and fail to realise that not everyone shares their passion. Some see climbing as a fun ‘first-date’ activity, others see it as a serious hobby, and there are those who’ve turned it into a full time job. But the most important thing is to have fun.
A quote from an old-time climber I read somewhere says,
‘Those who have the most fun, win’
And I agree.
7. The journey there can be the most ‘epic’ part.
You can get to the top of many routes by walking from the other side of the cliff. So why bother climbing it? The view’s the same doesn’t matter how you get there.
But it’s just not as fun, isn’t it? So what if you got a little loss on the way? What if it gets a little scary getting up there?
The getting-there part makes for a much more interesting story.
Between the two of us, Jack is the much more avid (and better) climber than I am while travel has always been more of my passion. But considering the similarities between them, it’s not a big surprise that we manage to combine our interests together.
We’re going back and forth on whether to take our gear with us on our trip upcoming RTW trip. The opportunity is tempting. But what do we do with our stuff when we’re in… say, flat Mongolia?