Growing as a climber... or am I?

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Jukka Ahonen

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Growing as a climber... or am I?

by Jukka Ahonen » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:14 am

First, a little bit background:

I started climbing rock somewhere in the mid 1990s, and all the way to 2005 or so it was just top-rope stuff around Finland. Then I started progressing to lead climbing, and then on 2009 I got what I consider my first mountain experiences. Last year I got a taste of ice climbing, in January I did my first rock climbing multi-pitches in Spain, and this summer I climbed more technical mountains in the Alps. (For me it was technical, anyway - but I'm not here to discuss ratings etc).

Anyway, I have noticed that normal rock climbing does not intrigue me anymore. Even lead climbing, unless it is multi-pitch, seems somehow hollow and uninteresting. Without the proper scale of the surroundings, it just seems like physical and technical exercise without any reward.

Right now I only dream of ice climbing and mountains, and have a slight interest for multi pitch rock routes.

I am just wondering: is this a typical evolution? Or is it just me.

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Re: Growing as a climber... or am I?

by mconnell » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:36 pm

It's different for each person. If you enjoy what you are doing, that's all that matters.

What you describe fits my climbing pretty well. I did a lot of hiking when I was a teenager and then started single pitch rock climbing when around 16. I never got into it that much. Most of the time, I would still rather go for a walk in the mountains that do short, sport climbs.

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Re: Growing as a climber... or am I?

by mountainsandsound » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:06 pm

Sounds a bit like me. I would like to get into some more technical alpine climbs, but I should practice at the crag for that, which I haven't been doing because I enjoy being in the mountains. So I'm still mostly doing scrambles and mellow glacier routes. Hard for me to want to stick around the crag on a nice day when I could be hiking. Hiking/backpacking/camping came much earlier for me than technical climbing.

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Re: Growing as a climber... or am I?

by pyerger » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:38 pm

I have to agree with you, I love the mountains, hiking and climbing them! for me It's been an evolution of sorts, where I would rock and ice climb, just to build on mountaineering skills. Now I enjoy rock and ice climbing for what it is, during the off season, when the mountains are all but shut down.
(To answer your question) Living in a rock climbing, and mountain climbing mecca, I would say there are more rock and ice climbers out there that have never summited a mountain,or hiked in the wilderness, and never will. That being said, finding partners to go climbing is easy and finding partners to hike in the mountains is easy, but finding partners that what to do multi pitch, or ice routes on big peaks, isn't quite as easy. Although out there, the % is a lot smaller.

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Vitaliy M.

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Re: Growing as a climber... or am I?

by Vitaliy M. » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:50 pm

I started out from hiking and scrambling peaks, and moved on to climbing rock and ice on peaks, and in the crags. ATM I enjoy doing everything from long day-hikes, to easy day scrambles, to multi day trips into the mountains for technical climbing. Climbing is very personal. I know some people who only climb outside a few times a year and are happily working routes in the gym, or do just scrambles, or just bouldering. Climbing is a personal way of life, and all of us have our own preferences...Can't think that there is some kind of a majority rule when it comes to what people like.

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Re: Growing as a climber... or am I?

by Scott » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:25 pm

Climbing is a personal way of life, and all of us have our own preferences...Can't think that there is some kind of a majority rule when it comes to what people like.

Exactly right.

For me it seems to comes and goes in phases too. I've done a bit of everything (ice, rock, scrambling, alpine, canyoneering, etc.), however other than hiking/scrambling I probably never excelled in any of it, and what I want to do changes from time to time.

If ice climbing is what you are in the mood now, don't be surprised if it changes later in life.

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Ben Beckerich

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Re: Growing as a climber... or am I?

by Ben Beckerich » Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:26 pm

Technical rock climbing requires a lot more skill, strength, and ability than hiking and non-technical mountaineering. Alpine ice generally requires bigger balls and even more strength, but less skill development than rock.

Mixed alpine climbing requires more balls, strength, and skill than any/all, and enough suicidal idealism to get the ball rolling.... if you're continually advancing in your climbing, you're ending there. Otherwise, you're just flip-flopping around... which people do. I do all the time. But it's not necessarily progress.
where am i going... and why am i in this handbasket?

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Re: Growing as a climber... or am I?

by mvs » Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:54 pm

For me the ultimate goal is the "all-rounder," to be skilled enough in the different alpine disciplines to put together great days on rock, ice, snow and mixed. You'll never climb the hardest routes in the separate disciplines. In this case it's the combination and interleaving of different mountain terrain that creates the experience, that lets you exhibit and hone your abilities. Any increase in "grade" will be too slow for those with an overt interest in grades to see.

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