March 18, 2022
Written by Kylie Tidmore, Rock Wall Manager
Six years ago, I began climbing. I clung to the rock, struck with new anxiety, breathing heavily — my mind is racing trying to figure out the puzzle before me before my body gives out. My toes edged higher and higher on tiny holds as my hands sunk into white-coated pockets. The higher I climbed, the better I felt. Climbing centered me. It allowed my brain and my body to work together in an all-consuming and focusing way that grounded me.
Six years ago, I walked into an indoor climbing gym for the first time and was overwhelmed by colorful rocks, rope, tape, and puzzles. This was it for me; the beginning of a grand romance–love at first sight–if you will. Climbing became my safe haven. It became a way to push myself when I felt mentally blocked. It became a release and a distraction from anxiety and fear. I climbed for 3 hours the day I graduated high school in order to distract myself from the life change happening later that day, and I climbed after getting in the worst fight with my best friend (and sent my first v5).
If you are someone who has never experienced the sport, I hope that I can do it even a bit of justice in the following paragraphs. I also hope that you will give it a chance in real life as well.
To start, rock climbing is physical. It’s a unique workout that is dynamic, widely varied, and always changing.
Rock climbing is also mental; it’s a puzzle that requires a specific solution. While climbing does require physical strength, it also requires mental tact—the ability to problem solve and figure out a way to make the route work for you.
For example, I am far from the strongest climber at the gym, but what I lack in brute strength I make up in my ability to creatively use my body to make sets work in my favor. In climbing, you fail a lot. Climbing is not really a sport someone can try for the first time and be shockingly good at. It requires a keen sense of body awareness as well as development of specific muscles and tendons that aren’t really used for other activities. Climbing takes work and perseverance. Failure in this sport is a big part of success, which will inevitably come through hard work.
Community & Camaraderie. Aside from all of the individualistic benefits to climbing, I’m willing to bet that 99% of climbers will agree that the best part of the sport is the community and camaraderie that takes place in a climbing gym. Climbing is a good way to make friends from all parts of Liberty’s campus and get acquainted with people you might never meet otherwise. In my almost four years working at the LaHaye Rock Wall, I am certain I have met at least one person in every school/department and have learned so much about different majors and fields of study through it. I have made some of my best friends through climbing and know that as long as I continue this social sport, I will always have a group of people to practice it with.
If you are looking for a new hobby this year, I implore you to come to the LaHaye Rock Wall and give climbing a go. It will stretch you mentally and physically, and will leave you feeling encouraged by a new community of people.