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Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number

Written by Jeline Guiles

With so many years passing quickly, too quickly for my taste, I’m slowly having to come to terms with the fact that I’m getting older. Come August 2011, I’ll no longer be in my Mid-20′s (which I was completely fine with), but will be joining the Late-20′s club as I turn 27. (27?! Ugh…and I used to think that 24 was geriatric when I was a little kid!)

So I wonder: when will I begin to see a downward slope in my climbing ability? How long will it be before my addiction to climbing fades away and knitting and bunco nights start to set in? Okay, that’s a tad melodramatic, but you get the drift.

It seems that every climbing article I come across now days, it’s about some phenom in their teens that has yet to hit their climbing peak (*ahem* Adam Ondra) or some other young gun who started climbing as soon as he/she could walk. It’s no secret that the strongest of the strong are getting younger and younger every day. As with any sport, the younger you start training, the longer you have to perfect your sport and before your body no longer performs the way your mind tells it to.

As for me, I started climbing at 21 (old, by the sport’s standards) and got serious about training to send harder routes at 22. It has taken many years and many setbacks for me to have gotten to where I am now and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. No, my achievements are not bragworthy and I have yet to send an 8a, but I’ve come to a point in my climbing where I feel confident enough to tackle difficult problems without hesitating or doubting whether I should hop on them to begin with. But as the years pass, I’m more inclined to thinking about producing offspring of my own, setting long-term career goals and making a home for my husband and me. You know, those things in life that don’t allow much room for sports and leisure.

It’s been difficult to find a balance between climbing insanity and living the normal day to day life and yet, somehow, I’ve managed to stay in the middle of the two these past 5 years. I think as long as I see a progression in my ability and skills on the wall, then aging won’t be a big factor in whether or not I should keep climbing. Like you, I don’t know what my future has in store for me, but I do know that I’m not ready for climbing to walk out of my life just yet.

To my fellow, Late-20′s, female climbers out there, to you I say, “Climb On, Sister!”

8 Responses to “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number”

  1. July 26th, 2011 at 1:21 am

    tammy o. says:

    i know a 70 something woman who still climbs regulary and is having a great time. granted she’s not crushing 5.15, but climbing still makes her happy. i hope that climbing is still a part of my life when i’m her age. i’m married, in my early 30′s, running my own little business and life is busy, but i can’t imagine not making time to climb. take heart! your climbing days are far from over. :)

  2. July 26th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Anna says:

    Hey, nice post.

    I’m 29 and currently 38 weeks pregnant with my first child. I still went climbing last week. (At the gym, did some very very basic routes, but still.)

    I started climbing at 25, and had gotten to a decent level. Since my husband and I both love the sport, we’re building a fairly professional bouldering gym in our spare room, to ensure we have no excuse not to keep climbing hard. It’ll save us loads of time and travelling costs (we live in The Netherlands so we’re pulling plastic most days anyway, though we try to go to Fontainebleau 4-6 times a year).

    Of course, you have tom make sacrifices for the big loves of your life, be that a partner, child, work, hobby or sport. But it can be done – living the grown up life and serious climbing. And as far as age is concerned – as long as most people I know (including myself) are still out climbed by 40-50-60 year old climbers with a life time’s experience and dedication, I wouldn’t worry about that. :)

  3. August 4th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Kelly says:

    Awesome topic. Do you ever wonder if you will climb as hard as a 10 year old? I certainly do. There are some real greats out there already (Brooke Raboutou, etc) but thankfully there are others like Lynn Hill to pull some hard climbs (score 1 for the good guys).

    I wonder if these discussions, although saying the same thing (i.e. keep climbing hard girls) has a recreational focus or a competitive focus. Personally, I have been pondering the issue from the latter perspective.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks Jaline for the eloquent words!

  4. August 8th, 2011 at 6:53 am

    anna says:

    Okay, just STFU. I didn’t start climbing until I was nearly 30 and I’m still at it 20+ years later, even with kids, a career, a home, and a husband. If you want it badly enough, you’ll make it happen. I understand that you have a lot of choices to make in your late 20s but believe me, you’re still a little pipsqueak in the grand scheme of things and you have many years of good climbing ahead of you.

  5. August 12th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Jeline says:

    Eeek! I wrote this a while ago and I turn 27 tomorrow. I guess we’ll see if my climbing abilities change when the clock strikes midnight. ;)

  6. August 17th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    merc says:

    Hi Kelly! Thanks for commenting. Are you referring to how to train for comp climbing?

    It’s pretty awesome that a 10 year old is pretty much crushing everything!! But, you have to look at the physiology of children, they don’t ever get pumped! They don’t have the capacity to produce lactic acid at the same rate as an adult, so training for climbing can be focused primarily on technique. Kids are the future of climbing, but so are people who started climbing after their 20′s.

  7. August 17th, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    merc says:

    ooohhh Jeline! You will only get stronger and stronger girl! That is seen with many male and female climbers. The only set back is recovery time. As we get older, we have to take more time between hard climbing days, but you wont start losing strength until you are like 60+ years old!

  8. August 17th, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    merc says:

    Thanks Anna for you comments. It helps to know that it is possible to juggle all aspects of life and still crush.

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