I suppose I could cop out and use the age-old phrase from George Mallory of “because it’s there” but that would only begin to explain it. Certainly curiosity plays a big role in climbing for me. Doing an ascent for the first time gives you a chance to see something you have never seen before – akin to exploring new land or outer space. Sometimes it’s a strange rock formation or an unusual animal. Other times it’s a whole new mountain. Yes, I am curious to see what is up there.
Challenge! There is both the physical and mental challenge to climbing. Whether it is rock or ice, the harder the climb the more physically demanding it becomes. That said, the cool thing is that you don’t have to be a super athlete to climb – I can find terrain for almost anyone to climb regardless of physical fitness or ability. Climbing is a lot like assembling a puzzle. Mentally you piece together the route and try to figure out the most efficient way to move from the bottom to the top. Sometimes just changing the orientation of your hand can mean the difference between success and failure. And of course there is overcoming the fear of not succeeding and of falling. Despite the fall protection provided by the rope, hardwear and the belayer, it still requires a fair bit of soul searching to “run out the rope” on a challenging climb.
So that leaves me with my final thoughts about why I climb and that is because I want to have the skills to be able to travel any place on the planet using my own power. That requires being able to hike, ice climb, rock climb, ski, snowshoe, paddle, and more. Historically, technical climbing is an extension of hiking – first you walk, then you climb – so it’s really quite simple why I climb.
And did I mention it’s FUN? See you on the mountain!