Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Climbing Mantras From a Toddler


Sometimes as climbers it’s easy to get bogged down with training philosophies, number chasing, or even just overzealous trip planning.  All of those things have their place, but too much focus on any of them can lead to burn-out pretty quickly.  Every now and then it’s good to take a step back and remember the basics of climbing…

1.  Climbing should be fun.  If it’s not, pick a another route.  Or do something else different entirely.
2.  Sometimes climbing is easy.  When it’s easy, relax and enjoy it.  
3.  Sometimes climbing is hard.  When it’s hard, you have to try hard.  If you don’t feel like trying hard that day, refer back to #1.
4.  Practice makes perfect.  If something feels hard, trying it over and over again helps make it feel easier.  But try it too much and it sometimes stops being fun.  When this happens, refer back to #1 again.

These mantras at first glance might seem very basic.  But the ironic thing, however, is that I know a lot of experienced adult climbers that haven’t figured this out.  Or what’s probably more accurate is that they once knew them, but have forgotten or abandoned them after a period of time.  

But you know who has it all figured out?  My 3 year old.  He only climbs when he wants to, and he stops when something else seems more desirable.  When he wants to try, he tries hard, but when he doesn’t, he has fun taking it easy.  And while the practice thing can be a hard pill to swallow for a determined little boy that wants to be able to do everything perfectly on the first try, he’s starting to figure it out.

It can be all too easy for experienced climbers to get sucked into the myth that they always have to be performing at their best.  If they have an off day or heaven forbid have to take a break, it’s like the world is ending.  I don’t say this to judge, I’ve certainly had moments where I’ve bought into that lie before.  But thankfully, I’ve got a cute little climbing partner whose unbridled enthusiasm is contagious and keeps the whole family in check.  How do you find balance in your life with regards to your recreational pursuits?  Did you perspective change once you started a family?

If climbing doesn't make you smile, don't do it!

If climbing doesn’t make you smile, don’t do it!



3 Responses to “Climbing Mantras From a Toddler”

  1. This actually would be a good thing to remember for lots of activities, even non-athletic activities. I work in a creative field and this applies particularly well there. Thanks for phrasing it so great!


  2. Sam

    Absolutely why I stopped climbing hard sport routes after my last go at J&T last year. It stopped being fun. I got back to basics and pulled out the all day shoes and trad gear. I’m looking forward to hard climbing this spring though, it’s been a much needed break.


  3. Erica

    Kathy – Agreed, I think you could apply these concepts to pretty much anything in life you are passionate about.

    Sam – I know how you feel man. After 9 months of taking it easy while carrying precious cargo, I’ll be ready to have my body be my own again and get back to working on some harder stuff 🙂


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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN