Climbing curiously and the power of “I don’t know”

The phrase “I don’t know” is not a bad thing. Most of us don’t know most things. When you claim total certainty, you end a conversation and an opportunity to learn something. It’s an uncurious move to make. What comes after “I don’t know” is what matters.

One of the best parts of climbing and its associated exploration is the feeling of being curious and learning all day. After the glow of glory and sending fades, the deeper satisfaction of remembered sensations and earned knowledge persists.

Beta refinement, redpointing and self-discovery are manifestly curious processes. Don’t be quick to close yourself off to options. This is a great example of paying attention to yourself being one of the most important aspects of continuous improvement. Examine your habits.

Here are ten ways in climbing that you can be more curious:

  1. When discussing beta, participate in the conversation. Remember, conversations are two-way. Try to spend most of your time listening, but don’t forget to share your thoughts!
  2. When a friend uses cool beta, try to do it yourself.
  3. Take an opportunity to go on a trip that you usually wouldn’t. Boulderers: you really think all of crack climbing doesn’t have anything to teach you?
  4. Practice sending climbs with as many different methods as you can.
  5. Go with your friends to problems/routes you’ve already done, and see what new thing you can learn about them.
  6. Find something new to appreciate about your climbing partner, climbing gym, or crag – every day.
  7. Instead of asking others how hard their project is, ask them why they’re trying it.
  8. Spend an entire session trying whatever looks interesting, without worrying about official starts, finishes, grades, or rules.
  9. Pick up that climbing book on your shelf and actually read it.
  10. Leave room to surprise yourself: never, ever count yourself out.

Leave a Reply