Hot Tip Tuesday: Formative Moments in Climbing - World Class Academy

Hot Tip Tuesday: Formative Moments in Climbing

This week’s post may be a little less true “tip” and a little more “reflection” on each person’s climbing journey.

Climbing Magazine recently re-released a 2022 article about the 6 formative moments in everyone’s climbing career. The author listed these:

  1. First real rock climb – this is the first time you touch real rock for climbing purposes; it could be a TR; it could be at the least scenic crag that ever existed; perhaps it’s dirty; perhaps it’s world class stone; maybe you’re terrified and maybe it’s the best thing you’ve ever experienced; maybe you look around for taped holds or wonder if something is “on” or not; or maybe you effortlessly transition from gym to crag; maybe this fuels the fire to explore the world and climb outside more or maybe it makes you realize you’d rather climb indoors; regardless, this is probably a formative moment in one’s climbing career
  2. First Upside Down Whipper – the author of the article mentions the scary upside down whipper from getting your foot or leg caught behind the rope; you end up with rope burn, maybe a bump on the head, and perhaps a bruised ego; this event could be memorable because it helps teach rope management and foot placement; it’s a reminder to stay aware and not become complacent in a sport that has high stakes
  3. First potentially fatal near-miss – this one relates to a near miss where had you not noticed the issue, something could have gone horribly wrong…but luckily, you noticed; this could be realizing you didn’t set your ATC up properly for rappel and had you actually taken out your two anchor points, you would have fallen instead of rappelling; regardless of the near-miss, this event teaches climbers, similar to number 2, to review systems, learn more, and stay aware
  4. First time placing gear – this formative moment is fairly self-explanatory; it’s the first time you lead a trad climb (or maybe a mixed climb) and place nuts and cams into a crack to ascend the rock; it can be exhilarating and horrifying because one realizes the trust they are putting into this piece of gear and the judgment needed behind that bomber placement.
  5. First climbing injury – if or when this happens, it definitely shapes one as a climber; you wonder about correct protocols to getting healthy and staying healthy; you work on staying positive; you redefine your relationship to the sport; maybe you come out with a reinvigorated desire to climb and enjoy the movement and what climbing brings you
  6. First real climbing partner – this final formative moment relates to that first climbing partner who may also be a mentor, who teaches you about climbing…and, perhaps, life; or it could be that first partner who has the same sense of adventure as you, same desire to push the limits – with safety – and see what you both are capable of; whatever form that partner takes, having that person to learn and grow with, who’s reliable, who pushes you while you do the same, that’s a moment one could never forget

While it’s probably safe to say that not everyone has experienced all of these moments, it may be safe to say that all climbers have experienced formative moments for them, as people and as climbers. And it made me wonder…

What are your formative moments?

What stories do you have to tell?

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