Semi-Rad: 10 Things I Learned From Climbing

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Starting June 22nd, I’ll be visiting selected REI stores around the country to promote my new book, Sixty Meters to Anywhere, about how discovering climbing in my mid-20s changed the way I thought about everything.

I love sharing my story with other people, climbers or not, because I think non-climbers can relate to many of the things I’ve learned too. Here are a few of them.

1. It is possible to be so scared you think you might die from being scared. And then five seconds later you somehow find yourself two feet higher and think, “That wasn’t so bad.”

2. There’s a whole subculture of people out there who will get really excited at the precise width of a crack in a rock face and the specific way an average human hand fits in it.

3. And I’m one of those people.

Climbing

4. Given the potential of a long fall of uncertain outcome and the right amount of adrenaline, I can do a pull-up with only my fingertips. Even though I can’t find the strength to do anything like that while hanging with my heels four inches off the ground.

5. Once you scare yourself half to death on a cliff, public speaking is much less terrifying. And so are job interviews.

Climbing

6. Accountability. When you tell someone that you have them on belay, you’d better mean it. And as long as you’re getting in the habit of doing things you said you were going to do, you might as well show up on time, not forget people’s birthdays and not slack at work.

7. Trust. Even though you probably only think about the person holding the other end of the rope doing their job, you’re actually counting on a lot of people having done their jobs—the folks who manufactured your rope, harness, carabiners, and belay device, and the people who built the cams or drilled and placed the bolts.

8. If you can sleep in your vehicle, you can save a lot of money and time. And, wake up in a lot of places with a great view out the window (at no extra charge).

9. You probably don’t need to shower as much as you think you do. See #8.

10. If you’re freaking out, it’s probably because you’re not breathing. So when you’re anxious, take a few deep breaths.

Now, off to add more to the list.

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