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Rock Climbing: My Many Misconceptions About The Simple Meaning Of The Sport | Column | Column | Opinion | Daily College

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When I woke up on Sunday, I couldn’t make a fist.

My friend and I went rock climbing two days in a row and my body was visibly worn out after hours on the crag.

My fingers were red and chapped, and as I slid my hand under the bathroom faucet, the cold, soapy water seeped into the patterned cuts and cuts on my fingers and made me grimace.

The blisters that formed on the first day of rock climbing wore off and opened after a 4-hour indoor climbing session on the second day.

My forearms felt like jello, my shoulders like death, my core like a vise. Her entire upper body felt like she was being dragged into a garbage compactor.

And as I was fighting to keep my hands out of the tap, one thought came to my mind.

“Why did I do this to myself?”

Rock climbing hurts. Grabbing rocks all day and plastic holds with a texture like sandpaper isn’t kind to your body.

For a long time, I thought of the sport of climbing, in all its many variations, as a battle between man and rock.

In physical games, rockers tend to win more than climbers. Skin and muscle are rarely lost from the years of pressure and insane heat that form the mountains we seek to conquer today.

From this point of view, climbing is wasted work.

And I’ve spent much of my relatively short rock climbing career thinking of the sport as a battle.

Endorphins flow as you walk the path to the top of your route. My spirits are high, but the war has not been won.

Paxton and Luke Vargas pose in front of Linville Gorge with a “rope backpack” on their chest as a rope front pack.

By the time you reach the top, you don’t have to look far to see the next challenge.

Usually when you top out, the harder or more technical routes sit right beside you. Or soar 1,000 feet above the cliff face and see far more terrifying multi-pitch projects waiting on the horizon.

You never really “win”. Never conquer rocks.

It gets harder and harder, and even when the climbing community thinks the hardest climbs have been made, someone comes along and does something harder.

There is no ceiling to fill and, in fact, no one to beat. Rocks challenge us, but they don’t participate in the same way as climbers.

While the climber asserts his will and exerts his power, the stone is completely indifferent. Whether it falls or flies, the rock doesn’t move, it stays there.

Climbing is not a race between climbers and rocks.

It’s also not a thrill-seeking experience. Climbing involves a lot of risk and climbing cliffs on all fours can be a little intimidating, but an incredibly safe sport.

Thanks to modern ropes and gear, the dramatic risks from the sport have all but been removed. The carabiner and rope that the climber clips on are strong enough to support the weight of the SUV.

As long as gear is used correctly, the risk of horrific injury can be reduced to near zero.

Climbing is not thrill-seeking, nor is it about ‘conquering’ rocks.

Most recently, I had a heated argument with a friend about two of climbing’s greatest achievements. Adam Ondra’s first ascent of Silence and Tommy Caldwell’s first ascent of Dawn Wall.

‘Silence’ is the highest grade single-pitch (one rope length) rock climbing route I’ve ever climbed and ‘Dawn Wall’ is arguably the most difficult ‘Big Wall’ multi-pitch climb ever .

Ondra’s “Silence” is hidden in Hanschelaren Cave in Fratanger, Norway. Caldwell’s “Dawn Wall” is part of the world’s most iconic climbing his wall, El He Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

My friend and I disagreed on which one was the feat. We couldn’t compromise because we have radically different ideas about climbing.

This friend argued that “Dawn Wall” was the greater achievement because Caldwell had overcome this massive stone wall. This monolith in the middle of Yosemite stands proudly on the shoulders of countless climbers each season.

“Dawn Wall” was an obvious and natural challenge to unite man with the most spectacular landscape of all creation. Walls aren’t just for climbing. The ‘Wall of Dawn’ is undeniably astonishing, retaining an inherent beauty that is incredible to climb.

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Luke Vargas tied to a fixed rope at the end of a ‘chimney’ in Linville Gorge

He claimed that “Silence” was in a remote and unknown cave in Norway whose sole purpose was to be the most difficult climb ever accomplished. It didn’t matter outside the small community of climbing.

I vehemently defended my claim that “Silence” was the greatest ascent in climbing history. Because it has never been repeated — an interesting note: Ondra is the only person who has repeated Caldwell’s “Dawn Wall” — and because it pushed the limits of what people before climbing were capable of. I believed.

Now I’m starting to realize that not only are these two achievements unique, but they’re missing the true heart of the first ascent and climbing as a whole.

Caldwell’s “Dawn Wall” drew audiences from all over the world, but very few friends witnessed the rise of Ondra’s “Silence.”

It didn’t really matter to either guy watching. It wasn’t about anyone else. These climbers hold no grudge against the rock either. It wasn’t a stone-throwing battle.

Climbing is a civil war. The sport is all about growth, climbing higher than the day before.

“Silence” and “Dawnwall” are feats that all mankind can be proud of, but these achievements should be held by climbers. These may be the hardest climbs any climber has ever done, but more realistically, these climbs will always be the hardest things Ondra and Caldwell have ever done. about it.

Rock climbing is a personal and introspective sport.

It’s not about conquering rocks. It’s about conquering yourself. It’s not about surpassing the last climber. It’s about overcoming who you were when you finally climbed.

There is not always a view at the top. You don’t always have a lot of people to impress or prove you wrong. Rocks are not there to fight climbers.

Climbing is my journey. Taking apart your hands while climbing a rock is not as appealing as yoga or prayer. The spirituality of climbing into a meditative experience has something in common.

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Luke Vargas top-roping on the Rambling Bold route outside the Batcave, North Carolina.

It connects the trials of the body with the conflicts of the soul.

The heart of climbing is to do the hard stuff. There are no great successes or failures in sports. There is no transcendental competition between man and nature. It’s not dangerous enough to be considered a thrill-seeking activity, nor is it an ideal means of discovering the beauty of the world.

The meaning of climbing is simple. Climb higher and higher than you first believed possible.

No rewards for victory, adrenaline or beauty. It’s about rising higher and what that means to you.

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