Climbers-Ash

Ash, Media Wrangler, Years Climbing: 5

Climbing keeps my brain and body working together. I’ve been dealing with mental illness for a couple of decades. The puzzle solving nature of climbing requires that I stay in tune with myself and makes it easier to keep from dissociating.

Also, it’s simply fun. You get the same endorphin/dopamine kick after you send a route now as you did you when you made it to the top of a tree or a wall when you were 7…

I’ve got decent balance and a fair amount of functional flexibility. I’m not the strongest, and I can’t lock off for days, but I can usually get my feet in the right places to hold myself for a minute while I figure out the beta that isn’t just throwing myself up the wall.

I enjoy technical slab, and funky slopers. J-tree was my first outdoor experience, and I spent a good deal of time fearing for my life on run-out slab problems. Somehow, that’s endeared me a great deal to them.

Sport climbing is my favorite. It incorporates some of the technical aspects that you’ll find in TR, but offers some of the more interesting and challenging moves that you find in bouldering.

Heel hooks for life! One of the things I was taught early on was that if I couldn’t figure out the beta, it’s either a drop knee or a heel hook.

My main goals are longevity and travel. I’d like to travel more, specifically for climbing, and I want to make sure that I progress in such a way that I don’t completely destroy my body in the process.

Climbers-Emilie

Emilie, Student, Years Climbing: a bit less than a year.

With climbing, I could let go of some sort of control that I am otherwise not able to.

I always have moments where I'm completely disconnected from everything else in a climbing session: the only thing that matters is how to do the next move – not to reach the top anchor, not to climb any specific grade, but just how to best place that foot, how to grab that next hold or where to position my body.

My ability to find joy in those small things is also what I think is my strength as a climber: I am hard on myself, but I still find joy in simple, small things.

I enjoy long sports routes with an even difficulty (no major ”cruxes”). That is how I get the most intense climbing experience and also the most adrenaline – in such routes you have to stay focused all the time in order not to fall. For me that is almost meditation.

One experience I often think about is a long vertical route in Margalef in Spain that was slightly more difficult than I had predicted. I was at the edge of falling all the time, but I stayed calm the whole route and forgot to think about whether I was on belay or not. I just kept climbing, breathing and clipping and when I got to the top anchor, the sun was about to set and I sat down in my harness just looking at the beautiful mountains and I remember thinking something like ”no matter what happens in life, at least I have this”.

I started climbing in Denmark which is completely flat and basically has no outdoor rock climbing. All climbing happens on artificial walls. I recall sport climbing sessions on outdoor walls in the middle of the city before sunrise. After some hard routes, I just lay down on the ground, listening to the distant sound of the city slowly waking up. Those experiences of climbing in complete silence in an urban environment were valuable to me.

Copenhagen is very special to me and I am glad I started on artificial walls. It makes climbing more about the movements for me – I don't find artificial walls boring and the outdoor experience is just an awesome extra that I'm always looking forward to get back to! Besides, in Copenhagen, one never needs to enter a car. You can bike everywhere!