If you’ve ever looked at a wall or piece of rock and thought ‘That looks terrifying, I want to climb it’ then you know how rock climbing is a unique sport. You learn simultaneously to communicate with whoever is holding the rope and to put your trust in them, while pursuing your independent goal of mastering a specific technique or completing your route. It is a community sport, while also being competitive with only yourself. It encourages confidence in yourself and determination as only you can increase that hip flexibility to be closer to the wall, and only you can do that extra pull up so that you can stay holding on a little longer. Climbing for me started on the ice, not your usual story. I had only previously climbed at a birthday party where my only proof is not my memory of it, but rather a blurry photo I found around my house (hello 90’s and printing out real photos!). Somewhere along the line I heard of ice climbing and thought that would be the perfect place to start my climbing adventures. It took months afterwards for me to start climbing in a gym. At the time it felt really special, and I didn’t know too many climbers and started with an introduction course I took with a female friend. We often spoke about how strong it made us feel, and it was fun exploring the climbing world as beginners together. Throughout these last few years my climbing has barely improved (as stated earlier- no one’s going to do that extra pull up for you, sorry self) but my life itself has improved because of climbing.
The nature of climbing at the level I do, is that it doesn’t matter the difficulty of what I’m climbing as it doesn’t affect the person belaying me. Once I’m done climbing, we switch so they are free to climb at whatever difficulty they like. This helped me get out of my mind set that I had to do only activities I was already good at, or it wasn’t fun. For years it felt embarrassing to go on harder hikes than I was used to while others cruised up the mountains, or to barely be able to run (thanks late diagnosed asthma!). Climbing gave me the space to explore what felt good to me, and to make personal goals that I knew wouldn’t affect others. Climbing is also rewarding for those of us who lack patience, as you can choose routes that you know you can complete easily and multiple ones in one night, or you can train and think through harder grades. This allows each climbing experience to be different and new, and always keeps you on your toes (see what I did there?). This confidence allowed me to encourage others to try rock climbing, and that’s where the magic really happened for me. It was really special to witness people overcome a fear of heights, physical restrictions, lack of confidence, and have a super fun time. In a world that often tells us we must look, feel, and think a certain way, it is so freeing to watch people explore something new and come out the other side excited about it.
It is because of this that I am donating 10% of my profits for 2021 to the Canadian Adaptive Climbing Society. I can only imagine the beautiful community they are providing and building. A place for people living with disabilities to go and learn these important skills that are transferrable from climbing to everyday life. I hope to volunteer with them once Covid is over- but until then your purchase supports the great work they do!