Towards new heights

Mountain climbing requires a lot from both the body and the mind. Are you ready for a challenge?

Text & photo Kristin Folsland Olsen

It is the overall experience with nature that makes climbing so fantastic, an enthusiastic Maren Eek Bistrup tells us. She has established herself in Norway’s Kabelvåg, Lofoten, together with her husband Seth Hobby. Together they run a wilderness guiding company, the Northern Alpine Guides, oering climbing courses and guided mountain climbing treks for all experience levels.

– You are so close to the elements when you are climbing. It is not only about the physical and mental challenge, but also about complex experiences with light, weather, the stillness and view – and not least the relationship with your climbing companion, Maren tells us.

Popular


Mountain climbing is a popular activity in strong growth. New climbing clubs are continuously popping up and new climbing areas established everywhere in the country. Today there are over 170 climbing clubs and there are almost 16 000 registered members in the Norwegian Climbers’ Association. The actual number of active climbers is much higher, as climbing is not a typical organized sport.

Balanced for the body and mind


When you climb you use your entire body. Your core muscles, forearms, legs and buttocks get a proper workout. Your motor skills are stimulated, and your balance is improved.

– You leave your daily worries behind when entering the mountain-side, and you are totally focused on the now, says Seth, who has over 15 years of experience as a climber.

– Climbing is a type of meditation that helps you stress down and become a more balanced person. You learn to control your fear, which can also help you in other arenas of your life. It gives you a larger view on life.

Bouldering. Climbing on large boulders at a low altitude. Instead of using anchors or a safety rope, you use a mat or a so-called crash pad to land on when falling off. Bouldering is technically challenging and a form of climbing that requires strength. Sport climbing. A form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors and bolts fixed to the rock. Trad climbing (Traditional climbing): A form of rock climbing where you place removable protection such as wedges and cams into cracks in the rock yourself.

An activity for everyone


– Everyone can be a climber, young or old, man or woman, says Maren.

– Children climb before they can walk, and you take these climbing abilities with you. We had a 72 year-old client with us on Svolværgeita, and that went really well!

Earlier climbing was a male-dominated sport, but today the number of male versus female climbers is quite evenly distributed. Women are known for being somewhat more flexible and better at the footwork than men, while men have the advantage of their superior physical strength. Tall people have a good reach, while shorter people often have more strength in their bodies, and manage heavy moves easier. Everyone has to  find their own climbing style, and use their strengths to their advantage.

Facts about climbing:


Ulike typer klatring:
Trad climbing (Traditional climbing): A form of rock climbing where you place removable protection such as wedges and cams into cracks in the rock yourself.
Sport climbing: A form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors and bolts fixed to the rock.
Bouldering: Climbing on large boulders at a low altitude. Instead of using anchors or a safety rope, you use a mat or a so-called crash pad to land on when falling off. Bouldering is technically challenging and a form of climbing that requires strength.
Aid climbing: Similar to trad climing, except that in aid climbing you use protection devices to make upward progress. You stand in a device that is attached to the protection.

Preventing accidents


– If you have good skills and knowledge, climbing is a relatively safe activity. Therefore, plan, prepare and practice, Seth recommends.

So as to prevent accidents it is important to have skillful hand work, secure equipment, a good attitude and not least both physical and mental presence. When accidents occur, it is most often because of human error. A companion check is obligatory before all climbs, and good communication between climbing companions is essential. It is also recommended to practice companion rescue and to feel confident at being able to perform first aid treatment.

A myriad of options


Climbing is an activity with many variations, everything from ascending boulders on the ground to surmounting challenging alpine peaks. But some things are common to all types of climbing; the challenge, physical activity and companionship. You develop strong bonds to those you climb with, and you can do it all over the world. So what are you waiting for?

Tips for newbies from Maren and Seth:


  • Join a local climbing club
  • Take an introductory course
  • Get to know the equipment
  • Take safety seriously
  • Take the time to learn things correctly
  • Hire a certified guide
  • Find inspiration online
  • Even if it seems difficult to begin with, it will get easier with some experience
  • See climbing as an entrance to a great social network. And use the opportunity to have active vacations all over the world
  • And use the opportunity to have active vacations all over the world

What you need of equipment.
helmet, harness, climbing shoes, rope, belay device, short loops.

More information:

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