Three Things I Learned from My First Climb

If there’s one thing my first climb taught me, it would be this: Nothing prepares you for the experience. Climbing was not on the list of things I planned to do. It just sort of happens after I finally gave in to my friends’ repeated attempts to invite me to join them in one of their outdoor adventures. I was promised an easy trail with the added bonus of watching the others practice their bouldering skills once we get to our destination. Looking back, I realized how clueless I was to the challenges of even the easiest climbs. Here are some of the things I learned from the experience:

Limits are temporary

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I’ve broken self-perceive limits in my first trek to the mountains. The hike didn’t turn it to be “easy” as I imagined it to be. It was far from the difficult climbs my friends were used to. But it was a difficult one for someone who was not used to more challenging physical activities. The rugged and uphill terrain made progress slow. And the heat seemed to make every step more tiresome. The group’s pace was fairly slow, but I found myself having a hard time catching up.

At some point, I began to doubt if I’d be able to finish it much less muster the strength to go back. I felt like I’ve reached my limits and there was no way I could carry on. But since heading back in the middle of the climb was not an option I wanted to take, I kept going. It was not long after we arrived at our destination. The feeling of relief was intense but not as overwhelming as the spectacular view that greeted us. As I sat there enjoying the scenery and waiting for my friends who went on bouldering, I realized that I’ve just broken my own self-perceived limits and lived to tell the tale.

Expectations don’t match reality

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No matter how beautiful you imagine a place to be, it doesn’t give justice to what you see once you’re out there. Nature’s colors appear more vibrant up close. The grayness of rugged paths with little vegetation stand in stark contrast to lush vegetation as you go deeper into the row of trees you pass by. The silence is as vivid as the noise from the myriad of sounds you hear around you.

Even the best photos you see don’t capture the breathtaking beauty of the real thing. Spending time in the midst of scenic landscapes make you wonder about the places you still haven’t seen. This is probably why climbing can be addicting. The spectacular sights make even the most difficult trek worth it.

It’s a great character-builder

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Climbing builds character. It puts you in situations that challenge you. It lets you face your doubts and fears. Once you’ve scaled a mountain or a wall, you can take on a lot more than you thought you can. You learn to push forward regardless of how difficult things get.

I may have suffered in the first and succeeding climbs I’ve done. But the experiences taught me a lot about determination and perseverance. It doesn’t matter if it’s an easy or difficult climb. There’s always something to learn along the way.