It’s a beautiful day. The air is warm, there is a gentle breeze, the mountains are calling. As the sun leaves the horizon, a group of eager climbers heads out to enjoy a tranquil day on the rock. They breathe in the beauty of mother nature. Laughter and bird song fills the air.

This is the image sold to us by outdoor fitness blogs and stock photography.

Happy Hikers at Top of Mountain
Photo credit:

This is bullshit.

First of all, sun is bad, overcast is good.  Secondly, nobody is organised. Half the party forgot to set an alarm, and the other half slept through theirs. You will leave an hour later than planned, everybody will have to stop to fill up with petrol, there will always be a shortage of water, and someone will need to borrow a chalkbag.

Thankfully you will have 6½ jars of peanut butter and 8 loaves of bargain-basement bread, because these are essentials that everyone would have remembered to pack.

And then there’s the soundtrack.







The song of the dirtbags.

I didn’t realise this was a normal thing for climbers to do. I mean, I had seen videos of Adam Ondra wailing like a banshee, but that’s Ondra… he makes so much noise that it has actually become a running joke. And if I was projecting some of the world’s hardest routes, I would also be screaming my way up.

Photo credit: Chris Noble

I think I’ve always been a bit shy to actually let loose on a climb. Occasionally, I’ll let out a grunt or, if the exposure is a bit intense, a quiet “fuuuuuuuuuck”, but I don’t feel that I climb hard enough to justify screaming.

Aye, there’s the rub.

Is it that I don’t scream because I don’t climb hard enough, or am I not climbing hard enough because I don’t scream? Maybe I would have gotten through the crux moves of some of my failed attempts if I had let rip with a yell.

In an interview with Ondra, he says, “Screaming is something that I hate about myself… and I don’t do it to make myself more visible. It’s more that I need to focus to do a certain move while breathing out, and if I scream while doing that move, then I’m 100% sure that I’m doing that move while breathing out.”

So, really, screaming is just loud breathing.

This theory actually has merit. An article entitled “Why You Should Curse and Scream” explains that screaming can actually produce a burst of adrenaline, which can give you the strength to power through a really hard move.

So, if you want to crush, get out there and make some noise.


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