In the climbing community, there’s a strong emphasis on self-promotion, but the term “climber” doesn’t always translate well.
And it’s not just that the word isn’t particularly flattering, but also that the concept of climbing is not a particularly common one in the community.
We spoke to climbers and climbing coaches from across the country to find out why the term isn’t always well received, and what it takes to be a successful climber in this space.
(For more on this topic, check out our new podcast, Inside the Climb, with John Boulton, who has been climbing since he was a toddler.)
What’s it like being a new climber and finding your way into the climbing community?
It’s hard to find people who are interested in you, especially when you’re new to the climbing scene.
You’re not a member of the climbing family.
I’m really, really bad at communicating with people who aren’t climbers, and I’m not really good at understanding the culture.
I feel like I’m always the bad guy.
And then there are people who you meet through the community who are like, “Oh, I really like your blog.”
It’s just a really tough world out there.
So when I go into a new climbing community, I’m like, This is so cool.
You have all these guys who are just like, I know what I’m doing.
And you have some really cool people who just are really open about the fact that they’re not into the community, so it’s just kind of a weird experience.
You can’t just be a professional.
You need to be someone who is going to do it for the love of the sport.
And that’s something that I feel really disconnected from.
What do you do to prepare yourself for climbing?
It depends on what you’re looking for.
When I was younger, I’d climb for fun.
Now I try to build climbing skills.
And I have a really good climbing coach who teaches me the ropes.
I’ve had some good mentors, too, but I’ve always been a little bit shy.
How do you make sure you’re being successful?
I have to get into the mindset that it’s about climbing.
And there’s this myth that if you want to climb well, you need to train for it.
And if you do that, it’s going to take away from your confidence, which is a myth in itself.
But it also means that you have to train with an eye toward being successful in this sport, which, to me, is the most important thing.
It’s like being able to read a book.
You just gotta read a bunch of books to learn everything.
What can you tell people about the sport that they don’t already know?
I don’t know.
What you’re doing in terms of your physical training, I don, too.
I think a lot of people don’t think about their training.
But I’m actually a huge fan of strength training.
I do yoga, and that’s my thing.
I try and do yoga at least three times a week.
You should do yoga.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring climbers?
It can be very helpful.
One thing that I’ve learned from some of my mentors is that they’ve said that there are some things that you just gotta be willing to work hard at.
Like, “You gotta work on your weaknesses.”
But also, you gotta be able to just get up and do something.
That’s something I’ve really learned from them, and it’s something else that I’m still learning from people who’ve been climbing for a long time.
If you want someone who’s very focused on a certain goal, and you know what that goal is, that’s the kind of person that you should have.
They can work at their weaknesses and they can work on that.
But if you’re like, [laughs] “Okay, this is where I’m at right now, I need to work on this, this, and this,” then it’s time to be like, Let’s get out of here.
When it comes to training, you’re a little more limited.
If I’m training for an outdoor climbing contest or a competitive event, I can get pretty good results.
If it’s for a competitive gym, you can probably do better.
But there’s no point.
The more you’re training, the more you become attached to your training.
You want to train and you want it to be fun, but you can’t make it fun.
Is there anything you wish you could have done differently to improve your climbing abilities?
If I had been able to train more, I think I could have been a bit more creative with my technique and my technique would have been way better.
It would have helped