Why do you climb? I hear this question being asked a lot, especially by non-climbers, my mum included. I’m not going to claim to know why all people climb. All I know is why I climb.
As a kid, I hated PE. The only way it helped me, was to exercise my imagination - coming up with convincing excuses is hard. When running around the field for the third time and a convincing excuse sprung to mind, it was too late and the drudgery of Rugby, Football or Athletics, would help reinforce my reluctance to take part in mainstream sports, both inside and outside of school. This is not to say that I wasn’t sporty; I liked running, cycling and keeping fit. I even played field hockey for quite some time. To me these sports were different. They were sports that you had to invest in, sports that you had to seek out, not Football or Rugby that you see everywhere and that dominates any conversation about “sport”. I had always had a fleeting fascination with climbing. It was something that, growing up in Surrey’s heartland, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to, but when I did go on little trips, I loved the culmination of exploration, physicality, mental challenge and conquering that lingering fear of falling. But I saw it as an activity, not a sport; something you do every now and then as a little adventure.
However, at some point around 20, I had an epiphany as well as an opportunity. I grasped it and started working for a reputable climbing centre. This gave me the opportunity to have an adventure everyday. But soon the adventure and excitement dwindles, you need more, you need something different. But climbing doesn’t stop giving. You have new centres to explore, new crags, new countries, new climbing cultures, different styles of climbing, different types – sport, lead, bouldering, DWS, ice, via ferrata, mountaineering… So after nearly a decade of climbing and probably being nowhere near the grade that I should be at, the reason I climb is mainly the unrelenting desire to explore new things. And climbing offers so much diversity and possibilities, how could I get bored!