I’ve been climbing in a gym on and off for 6 years now. At the end of last year I got back into it and have been going to the gym twice a week. With summer ahead of us it was about time that I went outside and touched some real rock ;-) So Daniel, Jakob and me went on a climbing trip to El Chorro in Spain. And boy did I learn a lot …
Since Jakob is originally from this area we spent the first day hanging out in his hometown of Hornachuelos and joined a local festival which had us riding around on motorbikes trying to take down a ribbon with a pen :-D Really, you had to be there!
After that we headed to El Chorro for 4 days of climbing. Here’s what I discovered about climbing and about myself …
1/ Practice makes perfect
None of us had ever climbed outside so we did take a course in lead climbing beforehand. This really is a requirement since outdoor (lead) climbing is much different than indoor (top rope) climbing. Mostly because … well there’s no ropes in nature where you can just clip in and go :-D
The only thing the course didn’t teach us was how to clean an anchor, which is something you really need to know if you’re going outside! It’s basically a way to take down the gear you use on the top of the rock once you’ve finished climbing.
We had watched plenty of videos like this one and even though it seemed pretty easy, everyone kept telling us to be really careful with this. So we decided to go practice in a gym first and boy am I glad that we did. Watching a video 100 times really doesn’t compare to actually executing it.
2/ Nothing good happens inside your comfort zone
Climbing on real rock is sooooo different from climbing in a gym. And I’m not talking about the obvious difference in texture and holds. There’s also a huge mental shift involved and this really affected my climbing.
When you fall on real rock, the chances of it hurting are much bigger than in a gym so I had my mind set to ‘not falling’. Which meant I didn’t do any moves that could potentially lead to me falling. So yeah, I stayed inside my comfort zone and climbed way under my usual grade.
But I really didn’t mind. My goal for this trip was to climb on actual rock, which I did. I didn’t need to conquer a particular grade or do all the climbs that the boys did ;-)
3/ Good climbing buddies are essential
I never felt pushed to do a certain climb, only supported and motivated. So big thanks to Daniel y Jakob for making this an awesome first climbing experience!
4/ Siesta is an important part of life
Jakob (the actual Spanish person) was a pro and took a nap every day, while Daniel and me (the tourists in this country) just relaxed by the pool and tried to master the slackline that was set up over the pool … so freaking difficult!
5/ Trying hard is a mindset
Because I had climbed within my comfort zone during the entire trip, I actually had to get myself out of that mindset when I got back to the gym in Ghent. I noticed that I wasn’t really trying hard because I hadn’t tried hard in Spain …
It didn’t take much for me to get back to going all in, but it was very strange to realize that you can lose this habit after only 4 days! Makes me wonder what other habits you can lose if you just ‘take it easy’ for a few days …