I'm toward the end of my trial period of rock climbing at Planet Granite in SF. It's been a really fun and interesting experience so far, and I'm definitely thinking of how I might integrate climbing into my other activities.
One part that I'm fascinated by is how rock climbing is forcing me to focus on specific challenges and work on them until I overcome them. Of course, I have faced other kinds of physical challenges, learning different dance styles, snorkeling, running, etc. But rock climbing makes it really clear what you have to work on — because you fall.
This one 5.10a route at Planet Granite has been defeating me the past two visits. Every time I've climbed it, I fall again and again, and eventually have to give up. I've been frustrated but not in an unpleasant way. More of a "Goddammit, I'm going to beat this!" kind of way.
So this morning I again tackled the route… And climbed it easily. It felt really good figuring out how to get past a section at the beginning that beguiled me. And the rest of the route just flew by.
Of course, the next thing I did was choose a 5.10b route that I completely failed at. Rinse repeat.
The idea of facing personal challenges that are so clear and concrete is really interesting to me. You are always pushing your practice, failing and trying again, striving for new challenges. While I don't really have time for another obsessive pursuit like rock climbing, I'm enjoying the experience right now.