Climbing ruined my life when I was a senior in college.
I was going to school in Los Angeles and had spent the last three years really digging the life of a city-slicker musician, but I felt that a huge part of myself was missing.
In 2012, my brother took me on a summer-long road trip of the west, dubbed The 2012 Making Moves Tour. We lived out of his Subaru Outback and spent every day fly fishing, trail running, hiking, camping, and climbing. My brother had introduced me to climbing when I was in middle school, but it was just a hobby then. After the road trip I fell in love with climbing in a whole new way.
The trip made me realize what was missing in my life -- the outdoors. It had been a centerpiece of my life growing up in Colorado but had disappeared in Los Angeles. Ultimately that realization set the stage for climbing to totally take over my life.
Climbing on face value is absurd. Yvon Chouinard described it as (and I’m paraphrasing) “conquering the useless.”
When you top out a climb, it can appear like such a pointless act. To a casual observer, you got to the top of a rock. Pretty simple. However, the simplicity of climbing brings the most fierce rush of bliss and self-worth I have ever experienced. It is so addicting that it can create a hunger that will last an entire lifetime, and an unfaltering passion to constantly progress. So, if you’re ready to ruin your life in the best way possible, it’s important you know the side effects of climbing…
Climbing will get you fit and strong. It’s an intense yet extremely fun full-body and total-mind workout. Don't begin climbing if you’re worried about your friends commenting on your toned forearms or the fact that your bicep has it’s own bicep. You’ll also need to prepare for comments from colleagues asking if you are “a professional tug-of-war champion” based on the look of your coal miner’s hands.
No time to yourself
“Climbing people are good people” is my official-unofficial motto. Like in every sport, you’ll come across the occasional super agro athlete trying to be the next pro climber. But you’ll also make friendships that last a lifetime with people who appreciate the world’s natural, simple pleasures just as you do.
I met my best friend Stephen in a climbing gym in Los Angeles, and since then we have traveled thousands of miles together to climb in Alaska, California, Montana, and Colorado.
Once you make the transition from climbing in a gym to doing so safely outdoors, you’ll always want to be outside. I spend every single weekend outside climbing, and even when I’m struggling through a sufferfest (like hiking the near vertical 1000 foot climb out of Lincoln Lake) I have a smile on my face.
Every waking moment becomes consumed by the sport. My weekly routine revolves around getting to the gym to train, and a typical weekend involves being out in the mountains for as many hours as possible on real rock. Say goodbye to lazy Sundays.
Climbing is, in my humble and highly-biased opinion, the greatest way to experience the outdoors. Climbing will provide you with endless adventure ready spirit and motivation to get outside often.
Gian Visciano tops out on Midnight Lightning in Yosemite, November 2015
Words & wisdom from Mountain Standard Field Agent, Gian Visciano.
Photos from Gian, and Amanda Sandlin.