Make 2020 the year you climb.
Every January, the internet is awash with self-help, diet and exercise plans to help us burn off the Christmas bulge and start the new year afresh, albeit slightly poorer from a new gym membership and slightly sweatier from the aforementioned new exercise plan.
How long do these plans last? How many are still going into February?
That’s the problem with drastic life changes – they tend to be hard to implement and keep up with once the daily grind of work, commuting, picking up the kids and general life gets involved. Not that there is anything wrong with a lifestyle that involves more exercise, fresh air and the desire to learn new things mind.
It’s just that us climbers believe we’ve got it sorted, without a treadmill in sight. And not just in January either. For twelve months of the year, as the clocks go forward and back, the light expands into the evening then wanes come autumn, we climb – inside, outside, on holiday, locally…
Climbing is a sport. It involves exercise, strength building, flexibility. It is making its bow in the Olympics this year as a competitive entity. But it is so much more than that. It is a lifestyle choice, a hobby, a social group. It is a way of life and as such, once it has infiltrated your very being, once it runs in your veins it becomes very hard to let go of.
The thing is, climbing has it all. Want to get those steps in, and get the heart thumping? A nice long hike to the crag should do that. Fancy working on that upper body? A few months in the gym working overhangs will do wonders for your shoulders, not to mention your core. Need a bit more cardio? Strap on an eighty-metre rope, chuck in some gear and pick a crag at the top of a mountain.
But while aesthetics are nice and will get you likes on insta, climbing in its purest form speaks to the soul in a different way. A route might sing for you but no one else, a particular move might take hours to perfect but when you do, making it is like dancing across the rock to a tune only you can hear.
From fine-tuning your technique, to upping your finger strength, there are a myriad of ways to improve your climbing ability and all of them can take place surrounded by friends, colleagues and strangers who might not know you, but share the bond of a love of climbing.
Climbing can be a solo exercise, headphones on, eyes focused on the route ahead. Or it can be a team game, as you all try and work out the particular moves and have fun falling in style. There is even a word coined for couples who climb together, who have a special ‘belaytionship’ and know the exact moment to give or take.
Inside, climbing pre-designed routes, watching your grade tick over, going from the polite smile at the person next to you to full blown best buddies in a matter of sessions. Or outside, lungs full to the brim with fresh air, blue skies overhead soaring high as you look down on the world.
If you want a fresh start this year, and there is absolutely no harm in that, and have decided 2020 is the time to give something new a go, climbing really isn’t a bad place to start. It isn’t a diet plan in itself, it will only improve your fitness if you remember to actually climb when you turn up as opposed to chat to your friends, but it is a lifestyle choice that you can actually stick to once January has fled away and February dawns with the promise of spring around the corner.