I know, as a mountain biker or snowboarder I am probably supposed to hate climbing, but hard as I might try, I just don’t.
You know how it goes, as the road start heading upwards everyone goes on at a good clip, talk cheerfully to each other and pretend that it is not hard. This usually lasts from everything between one and fifteen minutes depending on the group and gradient. As the road or track gains elevation, gears are dropped one by one and all of a sudden everyone shuts the hell up and just try to settle into their rhythm, spinning along and trying to minimise damage to legs and lungs. Some are still pretending that it doesn’t hurt, but the majority of the group have dropped the charade.
Give it twenty more minutes and my mind has usually began drifting off in various directions, partly due to the monotony and partly due to the will to escape from the suffering. If the gradient is manageable, I will then just sit there and occasionally return from wherever my mind is drifting to look at the view change gears.
On snow, it’s a different story. Some climbs are pure monotony and are dealt with by just spacing out, but more often there is constant terrain management involved. When setting a skin track, line choices are infinite. Finding the path of least exposure to hazards and wind is a constant puzzle, and at the same time trying to optimise efficiency is something that keeps my mind focused full time.
Then there is always the anticipation. On the other side of the climb, there will be a descent. It might be an old favourite, happiness guaranteed, or something new, untried and exciting. The potential to find the best ever line or trail is always there, enticing me to keep going.
Both on dirt, tarmac and snow, there is always the thrill of discovering what is behind the next turn, col or summit. A new view, new terrain opening up and new playgrounds to be discovered. Add in the chemical happiness created by the body itself, a powerful drug in endless supply that can only be bought for sweat and pain, that elevates the senses and deepens new impressions, and I can’t see how you could not love climbing.