Near the ceiling, up higher than I've ever been before, palms sweaty, sweat dripping down my back, I'm slightly shaking from the rope being unstable. This feeling is terrifying, but exhilarating at the same time. This is rock climbing and it's something I've been doing consistently since Valentines Day of 2016. What started out as a bucket list check off has now become a weekly habit that I Iook forward to every week.
I've always wanted to go rock climbing, but my fear of heights always kept me out of the door of my local rock climbing gym. Then, after making a new year's resolution with myself of facing my fears, I decided to do it. Never in my life have I been so sore the next day, well week, after my first day, climbing up those walls (I consider myself to be in pretty good shape too) but rock climbing uses completely different muscles and tendons than traditional strength training does. My hands were super sore the following day too, but it was worth every anxiety inducing second.
And here's why:
When you rock climb you learn things about yourself you never knew before. You learn what your limits are and what can be tested. You learn that bouldering can be electrifying because once you've climbed walls with ropes attached to you, bouldering just seems like the next obvious thing to try. Why wouldn't I free climb? The hard part about bouldering is when you fall you fall hard and there is no one there to catch you. There is someone there to spot you (if you have a climbing partner) but no one is going to catch you. Falling hurts, but you have a mat under you and it's not so bad after the first 100 falls.
Rock climbing is a partner sport. You learn to trust things about your partner that you never knew had to be trusted. They are your guide and you must trust that they've got you. Never go rock climbing with someone you don't already trust. Having a partner is fun, but can be challenging at times. They may think you're ready to come down from the wall when you are not ready. And down you'll go, freaked out from the initial drop and angry that they let you down. Literally. But you'll ebb and flow and not every climb will be perfect, but you and your partner will get into a groove.
Rock climbing is slowly, but surely helping me break my picking habit that I've had since I was 7-years-old. I've always picked my skin, it's not a habit I'm proud of but it's one I've always battled with. Rock climbing and having my hands completely distracted helps me a lot. The chalk, the chalk bag, the walls, moving my hands to different pegs is slowly helping me get over this ugly happy. Being a climber has also helped me face my fear of heights which I no longer have anymore.
Thinking of trying it out? You totally should! Face your fears, climb the tough walls, and then go back and do it again. Just be sure you have a fun partner and a solid pair of rock climbing shoes on your first day!