(And because I know no one likes to click links, here's what I wrote:)
It ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb
I once told a friend, “I’ve never fallen in love, but if I did, I imagine it would feel a lot like climbing.” I told him that because I’ve tried a lot of other sports. No offense to them, they’re great sports too, but a year into most of them, I was ready to be done. Sometimes before a year. With other sports, I had to find reasons to push myself through. With rock climbing, more often than not, I need to convince myself why other activities are more important than climbing.
There are two things that make climbing great. The first thing is the people. I’ve tried weight lifting, running, rowing, swimming, track and soccer, but none of those sports come close to the amount of character rock climbing attracts. You get some people who are very smart. These people tend to progress quickly and often have interesting approaches to routes. You also get the jocks. Guys with bulging arms, who, rather than scout out the route, just rely on their strength to pull off some of the coolest moves you’ve ever seen. And you get the whole range in between, which makes it one of the most diverse sports I’ve ever been a part of.
Rock climbing is also wonderful because of the nature of the sport. One thing that turned me off about almost every sport was that the better you got, the harder each day became.
When you started rowing, the workouts weren’t so bad, but a year in you’d get some of most physically and mentally demanding activities you could dream of. Rock climbing, on the other hand, gets harder, but there is a cerebral element that allows each workout to be enjoyable. When you go to climb, you have to figure out what you’re going to do, and then actually do it. As the routes get harder, you need to think more, be more efficient with your body and be careful with your feet in order to execute the move.
The really beautiful thing comes down to a quote my friend heard in one of his graduate classes. His professor told him there are three kinds of love. There’s ‘because love’, ‘blind love’ and ‘despite love’. Because love is the weakest, because you have to justify it to yourself. Blind love is a little stronger, because you love something, but you don’t know why. Despite love is the strongest, because despite all logic and reason, you just can’t turn your heart away from something. My love of climbing is despite love. Despite the fact that climbing rips my hands open, is hard, sweaty and makes me ache the next day, once I heal up, I always come back.
— Chris Peyser is a senior from Durham, N.C. majoring in environmental health science