Monday, July 12, 2010

Who wants to talk about psychology?!

I do! And hopefully future readers of this blog. When I started rock climbing in 1992, (man, that makes me sound old…) one of my climbing mentors, Andrew Sell, told me: “learning how to climb is 90% mental and 10% physical.” Really?! Then why is it that everything I see in the media world of climbing would lead me to believe that climbing is 90% physical and 10% mental? Climbing magazines shy away from psych topics and instead focus on who climbed the latest 5.15 and what shoes you should buy. Climbing books are no better; they usually only devote a small chapter to climbing’s mental contribution (unless of course you are Arno Ilgner, who is the only climber I’ve found to fully tackle this subject –thanks Arno!). The climbing media make it seem as if the mental aspect of climbing is some elite club you can’t get into for fear of giving away some kind of magical power. The only thing this approach has accomplished is reinforcing the notion that rock climbing is for adrenaline seeking death wish super monkeys. It also leaves regular climbers like you and me getting frustrated when we bump up against our own naturally occurring mental limitations.

When climbers like you and me get frustrated it usually stunts our climbing development and at worst, makes us want to quit climbing all together. No one talks about it because they don’t really know what “it” is or how to talk about “it” and we don’t want to appear weak or dumb. We can’t find any solutions in the media because they make it seem like we should already know how to conquer our own mental shortcomings.

This is why I am starting this blog. I want to start giving a name to all the different complexities that Andrew was talking about when he said climbing is “90% mental.” I want to help climbers grow and evolve by bringing awareness to psychological topics others avoid. If I can prevent at least one climber from quitting rock climbing because they reached their mental plateau (and there WILL be mental plateaus!) then I will consider this blog a success. So welcome! Join me. Where should we start?


  1. Thanks for the mention Rana.

  2. Hi Rana. We knew each other a long time ago when I was also climbing with Andrew. I agree with you completely because I feel like the mental side was my greatest weakness. I could never figure out how to silence those doubting voices in my head that prevented me from climbing routes that I was physically prepared for. Such a paradox, but Andrew's statement about it being 90% mental is quite accurate in my opinion.

  3. Kirk! Great to hear from you again! Hope you'll continue to follow and comment.


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