Here are some great words (and video) from Steve McClure. He succinctly sums up a lot of the reasons why we climb–and how routes can become an obsession for that matter. The story revolves around a route called Hubble that, for a short time, was the hardest bit of rock climbing on the planet.
Somehow, even though it’s rarely been repeated, Hubble fell off the world radar as a must-do hard route. McClure, however, had been inspired by its ascent and, even though he’d progressed to the much higher grades of modern world standards, an ascent of Hubble had alluded him. He states:
I was nowhere; an amateur, hoping to trick it into submission like I do with so many other hard routes, finding cunning sequences, holds and body positions that no one else has seen. I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone, but I wanted it for myself. It would complete my graduation and be the culmination of everything I ever wanted or even imagined I could achieve. It wasn’t for the grade, a mere F8c+! These days it’s barely worth a mention. But these figures are irrelevant really, in this case it’s the route that is absolutely everything.
It’s funny how we can get captivated by something so meaningless to the rest of the world. But that’s what makes climbing, and life in general, so fun and interesting.