The evolution from sport to lifestyle
Sport or lifestlye? Well, it’s been both for me. I used to put all of my focus into one sport and one passion, soccer. I played soccer every day, practiced hard, blood, sweat, and tears; you know, all that cliche b.s. Oddly enough, soccer lead me into a new passion, a completely different sport. Little did I know that this new sport would completely envelop my life, changing who I am and how I perceive the world.
I used to play indoor soccer with my high school team every Sunday at a small gym on Ft. Rucker in Alabama. There was this tiny little rock wall about 25 feet tall that you had to walk past to go into the gym to play. For weeks I walked past that rock wall and just looked at it but never tried it. One day after I finished playing I decided, you know what, I’m gonna try climbing quick. My soccer buddies all laughed at me as I donned the uncomfortable Black Diamond Vario harness and headed up the wall.
I quit soccer after that season. I was hooked.
For the rest of my Junior year I would finish school and go straight to soccer practice for 2.5 hours before heading home to eat and then I would immediately go to the gym and climb. I would climb until I couldn’t hold on anymore and then drive home, most of the time I would struggle to grip the steering wheel on the drive home. This guy Brian started to take a special interest in my climbing. He worked the wall but never really paid attention when I came in, just gave me a harness and let me be. They had auto belays, so he didn’t even have to work. One day, he came up to me and said “Here try these on” as he shoved a pair of weird looking shoes into my hands. They had the number 5.10 written on the side and I had never seen a shoe with so much rubber on it. I put them on and they HURT LIKE HELL! “How am I supposed to wear these?!” I asked him. He laughed and said “Do they hurt?” “Shit yeah they hurt!” I responded. “Good, then they fit”, he replied. I started climbing and it was insane! It was like going from crawling to walking on the wall. I couldn’t believe how much a pair of shoes changed my climbing.
I continued my climbing habits my senior year. Only now I had my own fancy pair of Mad Rock Flash shoes, and a Black Diamond Momentum harness with a single carabiner, a belay device, and a Prana chalk bag. I thought I was too legit to quit, but I still called it a sport. I started climbing up to 4 hours a night and my buddy Brian (a 30 year old NCO in the Army), started training me. He blew my mind every night. He told me he was a V5 climber or a 5.11 climber, I would go home and google all the weird things he would say to me. I thought he was the coolest guy ever.
I graduated high school and left Alabama in the dust. I had gotten accepted to South Dakota State University and was on my way to SD to work for the summer. I sprayed weeds in the black hills and was in absolute awe of the rock formations out there. I landed a job at the SDSU rock wall and started there my freshman year. As bored as I am of the indoor climbing scene these days, I still have to blame the SDSU rock wall for my advancement from sport to lifestyle.
I started to live climbing.
As soon as I got a paycheck, it went to gear. Cams, nuts, hexes, slings, runners, belays, gri-gri, ropes, rope bags, new harness, shoes, carabiners, quickdraws. I dropped thousands of dollars in a few years on a whole rack and the likes. I went on trip after trip after trip, weekend trips, skip class day trips etc. While everyone else went to Cancun or Panama City for spring break, I went to Moab, Hueco Tanks and now I’m planning Horse Pens. Life is good, as long as the climbing is good. I started to fall into the dirtbag category. I worked for a month one summer and saved up about $1000 and lived in Colorado the rest of the summer climbing as much as I could and just doing whatever the hell I wanted. Life was good.
I compete pretty regularly, I work at an indoor wall, it’s the best we have on the Eastern side of SD. I travel to climb as much as my bank account allows. For the most part though, as long as I’m in college, I’ll still be climbing indoors a lot. My heart though, still lies outside, on the rock scared outta my mind 20 feet above my last marginal piece. I now have 4 pairs of shoes for different rock or degrees of difficulty. Also, remember Brian the V5 climber? I’ve sent V7 now and am working towards 13’s clipping bolts, and this weekend I’m shooting for my first 11 on trad. I’m addicted.
Evolution is real, climbing evolved from my sport, to my life.