I’m used to indoor rock climbing, but I decided to take on my first outdoor climb in the desert of Sinai. It was a completely different experience than anything I’ve ever done. Indoor climbing is like following a system; you always go to the same place, pay, and put your hands and feet in spots that someone else has designed for you. In indoor climbing, the routes are marked with colors, and if you grab onto a different color than what you’re supposed to, it’s considered cheating because you changed the level of difficulty. On the other hand, climbing a mountain allows you to control every movement your body makes, and no one is there to tell you where you should place your hands and feet. You’re on your own. You really have to think twice before relying on a grip; you need to look around carefully to find the right place to grab onto. You could even have more than one option.
Rock climbing resembles a life of freedom where you, and only you, can decide what is good for you and at what time you need to take which action. And just like how in life we are never alone, in rock climbing you’re also never alone. You will always have someone that has your back; someone to belay you, and that person is someone that you trust enough to basically place your life in their hands. However, your life is only in their hands if you fall and they catch you. With that, I advise you to climb with friends that wouldn’t try to control your life and rather the ones that support you whenever something happens to you.
When you rock climb, you get a strong feeling of independence, especially when you decide to rely on a grip without knowing if it’s even the right choice. Rock climbing offers you multiple possibilities and it’s up to you and your imagination to make the choice. Climbing artificial walls however, only allows you very little options where most, if not all climbers before you made the same exact choices; almost like a sheep that follows a herd.
When reaching the top of a mountain or a cliff, the possibilities are endless, unlike when arriving at the end of an indoor route and being met by an artificial metallic beam or concrete slab. Arriving at the end of a mountain route, you can always imagine how the next time you can climb higher when a longer rope is available, and admire the blue sky that lies endlessly ahead of you. You will have the chance to see an amazing view that only exists from that particular point.
Why do many people choose to go rock climbing when only a minority chooses a life of complete freedom? I think it’s because people believe that the system is belaying them while they climb the wall of freedom.