Climbing – probably everyone has heard about it. However, the uninitiated people usually have wrong idea about this type of activity. The image of the "typical climber" – Sylvester Stallone from the film of the same name, and a few more worn stereotypes, such as the lack of difference between climbing and mountaineering and deep conviction that climbing is extremely dangerous, are firmly entrenched in their heads.
Recently, this extreme sport has been gaining in popularity, including in Transcarpathia. Many people take an interest in it, so it is time to debunk some myths about climbing and talk about it seriously and in an adult manner: thoroughly and openly. This conversation took place on a beautiful summer day in Uzhgorod with Oleg Koval, a climber with years of experience, who, by the way, a few weeks ago conquered extremely high achievement for every professional climber – the route of the 8th degree difficulty. Here’s what we talked about…
In the initial stages of climbing classes, fear can actually be present. And that’s actually normal. It’s a natural fear. However, if a person like the classes, the fear will gradually diminish.
However, to think that one day fear will disappear completely would be a mistake (by the way, the complete absence of fear is very dangerous for life!). Like it or not, but there always must be a minimal risk in climbing. After all, it is what makes this sport interesting and engaging. More precisely, the ability to avoid, evade, overcome this risk, as well as a fear of it. This is an opportunity to grow.
No margin for error
In reality, climbing, mountaineering, caving are considered extreme activities not for nothing. After all, they involve working with rather complex equipment, exposure to altitude and more. However, climbing, unlike the two other activities, has a significant advantage in terms of safety. Mountaineering and caving are primarily exposure to difficult natural conditions that can deplete the entire body and blunt mental focus: cold, hunger, excessive humidity, frost, darkness, bad weather, the constant stress of the body, inability to rest in time, etc. All this affects coordination, the ability to think and act clearly. Previously, almost all danger of extreme sports was associated with the failure of equipment. However, modern equipment’s reliability overcomes all possible risks associated with it. Therefore, nowadays all the real danger lies in the so-called "human factor" – a mistake that a person can do when working with a safety equipment, such as due to fatigue, loss of concentration. Under the adverse circumstances, the minimum emergency situation can lead to tragic consequences. Therefore, all motions of mountaineers or cavers must be trained to the point of automatism. Their lives depend on it.
In climbing, factors of adverse environmental conditions are absent or minimized. You climb up relatively short prepared and safe routes free from "living" stones, usually close to civilization, you can choose when and under what weather conditions to rest and when to climb. All this greatly reduces the risk factors and the occurrence of abnormal situations in sport climbing. But even here there are danger factors. One of them is carelessness associated with completely opposite belief: "everything is safe here, no need to re-check".
Of course, the possibility of fatal accidents can not be completely excluded. Therefore, the maximum attention to the equipment in extreme sports is a vital requirement. If you understand everything properly, have the necessary skills and are careful, then in fact there is nothing too dangerous about climbing.
About sore subject. Injuries as a way of self discovery
Injuries occur. They are unavoidable. Especially when you do sports. Any kind of sports. Most frequent injuries in climbing are hyperextension and torn ligaments, joint damage (bruises on knees and blisters on fingers are not considered injuries) and others. They occur because of significant physical stress and most often with those who do climbing seriously, trying to reach new heights.
On the other hand, surprisingly, this is one of the attractive features of climbing – to learn your body through trauma, to learn to analyze why this or that have occurred and how to avoid it in the future.
Do not confuse chicken with egg (mountaineering with climbing)!
Often mountaineering and climbing are thought of as one and the same thing, especially by people who are far from these activities. There should be a clear distinction between them. Sport climbing is a relatively young sport that evolved in the early stages only as preparation for mountaineering ascent. Then climbing gradually moved from the mountains to the valleys in softer conditions. Soon, they established whole climbing areas with lots of prepared routes, and began to hold various competitions and festivals there. Thus, excellent conditions for the development of sport climbing as an individual sport were formed.
Now anyone can become a climber
Now climbing takes a lot of popularity. Primarily, due to the development of technology. Equipment in our time has become the most safe and affordable (anything can be ordered online).In addition, people have learned to build artificial sport climbing walls where you can train and hone your skills in a more comfortable environment all year round! The development of climbing is also evidenced by an increasing number of different competitions held worldwide. There are great chances that climbing in the future will be included in the program of the Olympic Games.
Sports with no losers. Climbing as meditation…
Everyone can find something for themselves in climbing. For some, it is primarily sports, achievements, competition with other athletes. For others it is a competition with inner self, exploration of one’s own limits, conquering their fears, self-improvement. Others are attracted by a community experience, opportunity to have fun together, climbing, working on the route. For some people, climbing is a kind of meditation, distraction from everyday problems, stress and total focus on the sensations of their bodies and minds, complete transcendence to a particular moment "here and now". In this sense, the climbing is very similar to yoga…
Therefore, it is extremely diverse sport, or even more – life activity. This is its uniqueness. After all, most sports are built and developed based on the element of competition between people. According to the principle: either you win, and someone else loses, or vice versa: you lose – your rival wins. In climbing there is a third option: both you and your friend, partner or companion, with whom you worked together on the route, win.
This is only the first part of the conversation about climbing. We will continue to refute the myths associated with this sport which can be an exciting hobby, or even a passion. So, to be continued…