Why do I climb?
This question comes up every time I near burn out, every time I compare myself to others, or better yet, every time I try to impress someone else. Do I climb solely to climb harder grades? Do I climb so some guy will look at me and think I’m a badass (in my euro pants, obviously)? Do I climb so I can buy tank tops that show off my back? Okay, maybe I climb partially to show off my back, but really… what keeps bringing me back? It turns out this question is more complicated than it seems.
Climbing wouldn’t be in my life unless March 23, 2011, didn’t occur. Sitting in an ambulance, I had no idea of what happened or where I was going. All I knew was that my head felt like exploding, and my mouth tasted like I had been chewing on aluminum foil. That was the end of soccer, and although a hobby for some, soccer was a lifestyle for me. What was next? I invested all of my time and energy into soccer since I was a toddler, but I didn’t have an alternative. I didn’t have anything else that fulfilled my soul and gave me the drive to live. I began to sink into depression and used my eating disorder to cope with it. I was losing all feeling. I became numb.
Queue my brother, George.
George became my saving grace. He introduced me to climbing at Stone Summit in Atlanta during the summer of 2011, and after the first day of absolutely CRUSHING 5.6’s, I couldn’t stop myself from coming back. I was only allowed to climb one day per week since I was in treatment at the time, but this created a solid foundation for my love of climbing today. I began learning my technique and gaining strength under the guidance of Jonathan Brandt, and I was able to use climbing in my efforts of reaching new heights with recovery. Fast forward four years later and climbing remains an integral part of my life. It’s weird how a life event can seem so detrimental until you’re miles in front of it. I was lost when I couldn’t play soccer anymore, but I wouldn’t be found if it didn’t happen. Climbing found me.
So why do I climb? I climb because I have a way to feel when I can’t feel. When my depression or eating disorder leave me feeling numb, I divert to climbing to help me experience ALL emotions: happiness, anger, frustration, sadness, excitement. Climbing helps me express an infinite amount of emotions, but all of the emotions combine to make me feel whole. Climbing helps me feel the emotions that cease to exist with anything else I partake in. Climbing is my way of feeling.
Photo credit: Corey Lippitt