May 21, 2012

Introducing Yourself to Rock Climbing. ~ Sean Ewers

Photo: Sean Ewers

One climber’s opinion.

Crimp. Gaston. Sloper. Dyno. Kneebar. Bomber.

Lingo you might not know yet, but may come second nature to you if you decide that rock climbing holds enough interest to try. I have been climbing for the past five years, and I call myself a climber. I am not the best in the world by any means, but I love it. Everyone comes to climbing in a different way.

But there is one common thread that runs between us all: we caught the climbing bug.

For whatever reason, climbing has struck something in your brain that has deemed it worth investigating.

Yes, rock climbing is intimidating at first and appears dangerous.

You would be right on both observations.

I will address the concern of danger first. Like any form of “extreme” sports there is an inherent danger to it. But like any form of “extreme” sports, you can greatly diminish the chance of danger by becoming educated and experienced. In rock (and ice) climbing the simplest objective is to get to the top of the rock. That top can range anywhere from 10 feet to 29,000 feet high.

And I believe that the greatest fear that inhibits most people from trying rock climbing is the fear of falling.

Let me tell you, that fear never goes away. It just lessens.

Over time, you will become more comfortable with falling. I know that is a weird sentence but it is true.

If you climb, you will fall.

Photo: BetacommandBot

Technology has advanced in climbing so that safety is the number one priority. Gear keeps getting safer all of the time. As long as you keep yourself educated you can keep yourself safe. Accidents still happen, but you can reduce the chances by knowing what you are doing.

Fear never goes away.

And that is fine. In fact, it is necessary.

I believe that fear is what keeps us sharp.

It is what keeps us from taking too big of a chance. It is what keeps us safe. Now what you decide to do with that fear determines how far you can go with your limits. Like all of life, you cannot progress as a human unless you address your fears and face them head on.

Only by overcoming your fears can you truly see what you can become.

Rock climbing is intimidating. Whether you are looking at your first 70-foot cliff face or the really good climbers at your local climbing gym. If climbing holds enough of an interest to you, just try it. I recommend starting at your local climbing gym. Climbing gyms are designed to be safe. There are pads all over the place and climbers with an incredible knowledge of climbing safety and the climbing community.

I can draw an incredible number of links from climbing to everyday life.

For example, striking up a conversation with someone new is hard. If a friend brought you to the climbing gym, this one is a little easier to dive into. If you came on your own accord, finding a friend in a new place can be difficult. Fortunately, I think that striking up conversation at a climbing gym is way easier than at a water cooler. Instead of trying to come up with some standard topic like the weather, you already have a killer cool topic right in front of you.


Start by asking someone about what they are doing. Where they are from. Tips on something to climb. The worst thing they can do is ignore you. Then, you find someone else.

Like anything you do in life, rock climbing won’t start off like a bullet out of the gun.

You will ease into it.

You will gain experience, friends, confidence, and a wicked cool hobby. If rock climbing is indeed your cup of tea, there is a whole world out there dedicated to this sport. It is even on the short list for inclusion into the 2020 Olympics.

Photo: Sean Ewers

One of the greatest things I love about this sport is the people.

Climbers, for the most part, are some of the chillest, nicest people I know. You will, of course, get those people who annoy the crap out of you, but fortunately for you, you don’t have to associate with them if you don’t want to.

For me, climbing has given me a passion.

It has given me a way to meditate.

It has also given me one of the coolest ways to stay fit and healthy.

The one thing I know for sure is that I love climbing.

I love that it has given me a way to relax my mind.

I love that it has given me some great friends.

I love that it is so much fun.

Yes it is still scary, and yes it is still intimidating. But it is very exciting to explore and grow with.

But this is only my opinion. If you ask anyone else their take on climbing, it will be different.

I hope to see you at the crag.

A fun, hip video to help beginners be less intimidated to try climbing/bouldering: 



Sean Ewers is a climber. A lover. An adventurer. And tells bad jokes.



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Editor: Elysha Anderson/Kate Bartolotta

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