Why I Climb

A good friend one asked my to write an essay on why I climb. Looking for something deeper than the usual "because it's fun," I wrote this in response:

For the love of it…

Rocks to a climber are as waves to a surfer: a place of solitude and challenge, focus and clarity of mind. Climbing is an art, one that never gets old, never gets boring, and never gets easy. It’s about the fight against gravity, the constant pursuit of perfect movement; the union of body and mind.

Stone – impermanent and energized, yet not living – it is the point of nature I communicate with. I climb to be inspired, to be challenged, to push my physical and mental capacity beyond perceived limits. It is more than a sport; it is a way of life. At its very core, stripped of grades and disciplines, climbing is about the love of movement and challenge – experiencing a rooted connection with the earth. The world ceases to exist; time is lost, and for one hour or one minute, nothing else matters. It is just me and the rock…

Climbing is a form of meditation; a harmonic balance achieved through the colliding and synthesizing of opposing forces: tension and relaxation, mind and body, fear and comfort, safety and danger. All intertwined and necessary in the causal relationship that allows me not only to connect with the rock, but to lose awareness of the outside world and become completely absorbed in that moment of presence. Through climbing, I am connected to my surroundings. It opens my awareness, engages my senses, and breathes life into me.

Climbing is a path to enlightenment. It’s about turning dreams into reality. A test-piece of commitment, making the move that will either make or break the sequence, risking it all to send or to sail. Conquering my mind, fighting my fear, pushing the limits; this is where I tend to learn the most about life itself. Climbing is more than an experience; it’s about the friends I make, the trust I gain, and the love I find. The love that drives me; the love that is wanting, needing, and breathing climbing. It’s the texture beneath my fingertips, the wind on my back, the next move on my mind. It’s the failing to succeed, but never failing to try again. A dizzying, butterfly-in-the-gut rush of adrenaline and emotion. The love is always exhilarating, always present, and when it hits there’s no mistaking, because the feeling of moving on rock…there’s just nothing like it.

For me, not climbing simply means not being…