Ever since I met Yash, his life has revolved around climbing. His Youtube would be filled with climbing videos, his WhatsApp would be filled with climber friends talking about where to climb next, his conversations on phone would also revolve around new crags discovered or how they could bolt even the tiniest of rocks they find, he only attracted climbers, attended climbing festivals and every place we went to, his eyes would look for rocks and nothing else.
So, it got me thinking, why is climbing so addictive? Why does the climbing breed have this extreme passion, these never-ending cravings, this lust for the rocks?
And I did some research, spoke to some climbers about what it is that makes their love for climbing so addictive. And one of the most common answers I got was- bonding/ community.
So, yes the climbing community, a place where every climber feels like they belong. One usually starts climbing with a group of climbers, people who know what they are doing and then proceed to chase tougher climbs. As they teach you what to do, how to belay, how to climb, you feel a sense of belonging, And that bonding goes a long way.
I can vouch for that as an outsider. Whenever three-four climbers meet, they bond instantly, start talking about crags, about routes and techniques and before you know it, they might be on their way to the closest climbing gym or crag. (And yes I stay invisible in the whole process, the only non-climber who somehow ended up there)
And once within the community, you want to climb better, especially when you hear XYZ just climbed a new route or found a new location, then the other climbers soon want to do go explore it and climb it. Community makes you start climbing often, you keep texting other climbers to come to belay, to help you climb and everyone becomes an integral part of your life.
SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT- fast, many times a day/week
And with climbing often comes a sense of accomplishment. And a sense of accomplishment that can come multiple times in a day, a week or a month. Unlike other sports, in climbing, one can feel a sense of accomplishment within minutes. A successful climb hardly takes five minutes, but once you reach the top, you feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
You can win every other day, you can spend a whole day trying to send a route and then at the end of the day when you actually do it, the feeling you get is something to be experienced! Again, as a non-climber, I would agree that when I do climb those few easy routes and succeed it feels good. It feels like I have achieved something that day and can go to bed in peace.
And it isn't easy always. You have to make that challenging move, you have to try and fall a lot of time before you finally do it. And that, that moment when after five falls you finally succeed is what this sense of accomplishment.
FULL BODY WORKOUT- DOPAMINE
Given that for the sense of accomplishment, one has to climb frequently, it gives you a total body workout. When people attend our rock climbing workshop, they are at the crags for 5-6 hours, climbing every now and then, trying to reach the top at every route they set out on. And at the end of the day, muscles they didn't know existed would remind them of its existence.
Climbing, exercising also releases dopamine, which simply makes the whole experience pleasurable! Unlike going to a gym and working on one particular part of the body every day, here every part of your body and mind is used. You will need to figure out where to put your feet, next, where to cling on to, it requires mental as much as muscle power. And the best part of climbing is when you use your mind and analyze, your climb definitely can get easier and more efficient.
And this workout is the same at whatever level you are at. There is no competition with others, you get to choose which route you can do, and proceed at your own level. Whatever you climb, all parts of your body will be worked out. You will feel complete exhaustion!
The grading system of climbing is self-explanatory and anyone who gets into the climbing world can proceed from the basic level to the advanced ones himself. This grading system is addictive in itself and climbers want to start climbing better grades and progress. Every route has a crux, a move which is the most challenging, which when you cross you feel the endorphin rush, the body elated, and peace of mind.
Rock climbing is one sport where your life is literally in the hands of the belayer. The rope which will save your life if you fall, are in the hands of the belayer, who will ensure you don't take a bad fall. And this trust in humans, which is getting less day by day, gets renewed when you start climbing. And you will come back for more, as this is a place where your trust issues get worked out automatically.
PURPOSE IN LIFE
As for the hardcore climbers, climbing gives them a purpose in life. It is a reason to get up, to plan, to execute, to live. Beyond The Wall started with a purpose, to climb and to teach more people to climb. To give more people purpose, to get out, to get beyond.
Like this story of Aron, a friend of ours who was a drug addict, who had almost given up on life and was knee-deep in a lot of unwanted addictions, but then his uncle got him to try climbing one day. Since then, he quit drugs and got addicted to climbing. Now he is at the peak of his health, he gets up every day with a purpose, is traveling all across Asia to climb and is spreading the joy of climbing to others.
Climbers who haven't climbed in months, maybe due to an injury can display withdrawal symptoms, just like any other addiction.
Well, this is one point where due to the fact that we have evolved from the apes/ ape-men we once were, we somewhere still have a little of the climbing instincts left. Yes, we can never swing as well as an ape, we can't climb up trees like monkeys, but we do have a little inbuilt instinct somewhere. And maybe that itself is a part of the addiction. Our instincts.
I guess this answers the question of why rock climbing is addictive. If you haven't tried it yet, why don't you do it now?
Join us on one of our rock climbing workshops or courses, and become a part of this community where good things happen!