Climbing can give a person so much, in the sport and in general life. So, my top tip for anyone feeling scared about starting climbing or when they’re up on the wall is take one good deep breath, calm your mind and then make a move. Becoming a regular climber has been one of the best things I could have done!
You’re not actually afraid of heights!
So many people are scared to climb because they have a fear of heights. Well, Alex Honnold said it well- ‘The vast majority of people who say they have a fear of heights aren’t actually afraid of being up high… they’re afraid of falling … Which is totally appropriate…if I thought I was going to fall off the edge of a cliff I would find that very scary. The key is to make sure you don’t fall off.’ I think what he means is that fear can be overcome by building your skills to ensure you go out there with knowledge and skills. The more confident you are in your craft, the more likely it is that your fear ‘falls away.’ Okay, maybe not completely, but it gets easier. And it is so worth persevering with.
Climbing has not only provided me with the skills to scale rock faces in style but has provided me with so much more!
There’s the obvious fitness benefits of the sport. Having to make your way up a rock face increases your fitness and strength extremely quickly. Plus the technical skills you gain from learning how to climb; learning to belay, tie different knots and becoming familiar with all the gear to keep you safe.
And there’s the less obvious benefits, such as self-awareness; being able to identify your triggers for fear and how to overcome them. And awareness of how your body moves and using different techniques to use the rock to your advantage. Trust; unless you plan to free solo (climb without a rope,) you’ll need a belayer. It’s a very liberating experience to trust another human with your safety. Being able to let yourself trust is definitely something that people struggle with day to day. And climbing certainly helps you figure out who you can trust with your life- and you can’t ask for more than that?
And most importantly, for myself at least, self confidence in the most humbling way. You become confident in the fact that you don’t have to be the best the moment you walk up to the crag, but instead being able to enjoy the process of learning and improving. Which, if you think about it, is actually a pretty philosophical and freeing way of looking at life as a whole.
It’s a very hard task to try and convey a feeling that gives you such joy without finding yourself rambling, so for your sanity I will leave it there. But truly there is only one way to try and find out what I’m talking about… and that is to get out and try climbing!
Anita Alderman 1/06/21