Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
COL._Von_Spanker

Discussing climbing with non-climbers

Recommended Posts

So many of the persons that I associate with are climbers, but believe it or not I have non-cimber friends too. It's always odd trying do discuss what I spend nearly all of my weekends and no-work hours doing; even explaining climbing in general. Many people don't know shit about what climbing is and the different types of climbing; except for the few that may have read Into Thin Air, or seen Vertical Limit. Bring these people into the climbing circle and they are lost amidst a barrage of words like 'beta', 'FA', 'pitch', 'crampons', and a myriad of other perplexing nouns and adjective? And the more I climb the harder it is to relate to 'normal' people.

I don't expect non-climbers to understand climbing, but how does one respond at work on monday when you get the preverbial "Did you have a good weekend?" Is it "yeah it was great, I went climbing", or "pertty mellow, just hung out" even though you just got back from a 48 hour sufferfest on some alpine peak. Or when you are making conversation and someone asks "so what kind of things do you like to do?" You may say "I'm into climbing" but you know that unless it's a climber, they will never fully understand no matter how it is explained.

 

This can be said for many activities in life, but I'm curious as to what others think about this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ditch non-climbing friends. Just kidding. Being vague will reduce your frustration at their non-understanding of your achievements.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they turn out to be long-term friends, they will gradually learn enough to be of some use in conversations. Or they will just accept what you do as something that is important to you and not worry about it.

 

If they are just work associates, tell them whatever you want -- "I went bowling again" or "just went over to the gravel pit and killed a 12 pack of Silver Bullets whilst exercising my 2nd Amendment Rights" or whatever seems right at the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i definatly have two peer groups.

 

my climbing friends understand both faucets of my life. whereas my non climbing friends only have a dim idea of what is really going on. one thing i try to do, atleast with my good non-climbing friends is to include them. i try to take all my friends out atleast once, so they can be exposed to new things. i look at it like this because i always like to try new things, and if i didn't i might be missing out on something that may have a significant impact on my life. but most of non-climbing friends have been and they all understand the jargon. i show them pics and my gear and try to explain it.

 

people that i am just involved with in passing.. well i might make a reference to climbing, but unless they seem interested i dont go much further. that or i try to relate it to something that can and or do undersand.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not that I am frustrated that they don't undstand or appreciate my accomplishments. I have been dealing with this since 5th grade when I started getting out all the time. It's more an issue of interpersonal relations, ya know. People are often curious so they ask, but I feel they will never understand.

 

As was said in To Kill a Mockingbird "you never really know a person until you put on their shoes and walk around in 'em" (or something close to that, I don't remember exactly)

 

BTW: I just threw that out there for the sake of discussion 'cause I'm curious what others think, and for the sake of discussion (as opposed to looking for some Dr Phil style advice)

Edited by COL._Von_Spanker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When non-climbers feel compelled to ask "what do you like to do?" or "oh, climbing, what's that all about?",

I just ask them if they've seen Vertical Limit. Of course they have. Then I tell them,

"yeah", it's just like that. wanna go?" They never know quite whether to believe me or not.

Pretty funny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually don't talk too much about climbing to my non-climbing friends because we're to busy talking about other stuff. If they ask about my weekend I just usually say climbing at such and such and don't really elaborate because thats enough for them to understand. Only time I elaborate is if I come back with an obvious war wound.

 

I usually respond to people at work by saying, "I went out hiking".

 

Edited by TimL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My best friend in the whole world watched for the first cupple of years while I began to climb. last summer she started climbing. Not because I wanted her to but because she was interested. It has tuned out wondrfuly. She is far bolder than I am and does a realy great job adding to my confidence. most of my friends wont ever climb... they are not interested at all. I still love them, but sometimes I get that they just don't realy understand me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just show them some good EXTREME smirk.gif photos. Put your camera to more use. I dont bother explaining it any more. I just tell them something along the lines that bobinc mentioned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't you guys just think that most of the time when people (even climbers) "how was your weekend" or whatever, that really, they don't give a sh*t. They are just being personable. Any explanation over 30 secs is going to be met with eye-glossing.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say no one can feel as bad about punting around at home on a sunny weekend than can a climber. Hmmm, how many times have I been stuck in the city on a nice weekend day wishing I was out there in the mountains? Non-climbers have nice weekends too, but it won't mean as much to them as it would a climber--especially PNW climbers who get a lot of crappy days in between the good ones.

 

Non-climbers also do not know how close climbers can and do come to killing themselves every weekend. We're in control, but one false step and it could be aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....

 

Interesting to see Erik posting without capital letters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Don't you guys just think that most of the time when people (even climbers) "how was your weekend" or whatever, that really, they don't give a sh*t. They are just being personable. Any explanation over 30 secs is going to be met with eye-glossing.

 

This is very true with many people...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many of you have parents/spouses/others that don't like this pursuit? How do you deal with it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If i climbed something they might know about, I'll tell em, like "I climbed Slesse last weekend". Then the guy I work with will ask me if I saw any mountain goats because that's his area of specialization.

 

 

On the other hand if I wentr somewhere out of their nowlefdge range and I get asked what I did - "Oh, went to Squamish - How about you?" then I get to hear about how the 5 year old fell off the bike or how much beer was drunk at hockey with the guys Friday night. tongue.gifbigdrink.gif

 

The real problem is when people always want to see pictures. are they just asking to be polite? i keep a few nice shots of peaks etc for them to gape at and go away. wink.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice topic, Colonel.

 

I try not to go into too much detail. I try to relate aspect that other people can relate to, such as the views including mountains they might be familiar with. Or funny stories that are more people oriented and non-technical.

 

The most difficult thing for non-climbers to comprehend is why we willingly endure so much suffering in the name of fun. When someone sees me staggering stiff and sore down the hall, it's hard for them to believe that I really did have a great weekend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could also say something like, "particpated in my preferred form of ritual violence". Many people don't seem to get why they like football, baseball etc until you describe it as such. Of course, you could also get rid of the word "ritual" if you have properly thrashed yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Don't you guys just think that most of the time when people (even climbers) "how was your weekend" or whatever, that really, they don't give a sh*t. They are just being personable. Any explanation over 30 secs is going to be met with eye-glossing.

 

Yep. It's unfortunate though in my opinion...but that's another thread topic.

 

I talked to one of my climbing friends about how to handle non-climber conversations about climbing a few years ago after repeatedly being asked by business clients if I had read "Into Thin Air" once they found out that I climb. He made a good point that unfortunately non-climbers whose only view into our world is sh**y climbing lit or movies will think they understand because they don't know any better. Which is more frustrating than people who know nothing. Helping these peole understand really isn't our problem as a community unless there are serious issues on the table (access, fees for rescue, etc.).

 

Unless it's a person/relationship we value it can be a wast of time and they probably don't really care. For people we care about, helping them "get it" will be better in the long-run because we'll be able to relate, don't complain when we're gone all the time, and may even be interested in trying it. Erik's advice is great. Get them out there to try it. What have you got to lose. You can possibly increase the number of belay slaves you have access to.

 

How many of you have parents/spouses/others that don't like this pursuit? How do you deal with it?

 

As for people you care about who "hate" the sport/pusuit/lifestyle (however you relate to climbing). No real advice here. I've helped my parents deal with it by talking about how I manage risk. I've been less successful with significant others. Basically it's tricky in my experience to have a relationship with a non-climber and pursue climbing as more than a casual activity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whenever I tell someone that I climb, they give the usual response as you guys mentioned. "Have you read Into Thin Air" or "Have you seen Vertical Limit", my favorite for people in Washington State is, "Have you climbed Mt. Rainier", cause apparently thats the only mountain they know in the state. You ask them about Baker or Adams or something, and they have no idea what your talking about. Plus everyone I talk to assumes that I rock climb (which I do, though mostly alpine), but apparently they don't know any better. My parents are very protective of my climbing. My mom doesn't understand at all, no matter how I put it, she doesn't get it. I have explained why I climb and the basics of climbing to him, so he feels safer about me doing it. I have a lot of non climbing friends, and they don't know what the hell I'm talking about when I say "I went climbing this weekend", it is a bit frustrating. Explaining is the best method I've found.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keeping it simple or obfuscating the facts is definitely the way to go most of the time. No one who doesn't climb understands what it means to blow an onsight, skip the crux clip, lead a gear route, send, get pumped, etc. And for those casual office interactions wherein no one actually cares? Why waste the time explaining that we don't actually have bolt guns or climb ice bare-handed? It's like any pursuit or hobby or whatever that most of society can't relate to. Punk rock, hi-fi home audio, actual good food or beer or wine or whatever, climbing, movies that don't suck shit ... if it ain't on the mainstream radar, it's likely to get a blank stare in return.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Whenever I tell someone that I climb, they give the usual response as you guys mentioned. "Have you read Into Thin Air" or "Have you seen Vertical Limit", my favorite for people in Washington State is, "Have you climbed Mt. Rainier", cause apparently thats the only mountain they know in the state. You ask them about Baker or Adams or something, and they have no idea what your talking about. Plus everyone I talk to assumes that I rock climb (which I do, though mostly alpine), but apparently they don't know any better. My parents are very protective of my climbing. My mom doesn't understand at all, no matter how I put it, she doesn't get it. I have explained why I climb and the basics of climbing to him, so he feels safer about me doing it. I have a lot of non climbing friends, and they don't know what the hell I'm talking about when I say "I went climbing this weekend", it is a bit frustrating. Explaining is the best method I've found.

 

LMAO! That is exactly the response I get when someone discovers that I'm a climber--they ask, "Have you climbed Rainier?" Then they proceed to tell me how they really enjoyed Vertical Limit. Then, the next question they ask is, "What other mountains have you climbed?" I answer, Stuart, Baker, Etc. and they say: "Cool, where are those mountains?" pitty.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just ell them , you have climbed the peaks in Cliffhanger and Vertical Limit, and Into Thin Air. laugh.gif "Everest 96? Yeah, I was there..." tell them you were filming with Brashears. Theyl dig it and since they dont climb, will never question you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AlpinistAndrew has it right. I was in a phone interview the other day and the interviewer asked what I do in my spare time. "I like to climb." "Oh... Have you climbed Mt. Rainier?"

 

Whenever my (non-climbing, mostly) roommates ask about my trips, I start to tell a story and their eyes glaze over. I've always attributed that to being a terrible storyteller, but maybe they just don't get it. I've gotten them both to go to the gym and they like hiking. One of my roomies even went to Exit 32 with me once, and the other owns crampons. Still, they just aren't climbers.

 

My girlfriend likes to hear my stories *and* she likes to climb. Even better, she's sympathetic when I come back all sore and dirty. rockband.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×