During high school I moved three times. I grew up in Orange County California, then moved to Seattle, Washington, and then ended up in Salt Lake City, Utah. I always liked to tryout the recreational activities of the region. In Orange County, I grew up surfing, spearfishing, and other oceanic activities. In Seattle, I was introduced to kayaking, backpacking, and mountain biking. When I moved to Utah I was introduced to skiing, and rock climbing. Besides surfing, I never had the chance to really get into one of these activities enough to excel. By the time I was introduced I was already packing my bags again and ready to move on to the next state.
After I graduated high school, I left on a volunteer service trip to Brazil for 2 years, I did not have any time to learn any of the recreational activities of Brazil, but, while I was gone, someone gave my family rock-climbing gear: harnesses, shoes, ropes, bags, and belay devices. While my family used the gear a little, when I got back from my trip I had free access to all the gear. The only rock-climbing experience I had prior to the volunteer trip was a little bit of indoor climbing and some rappelling. That was it. I was clueless to any terms of rock climbing and rock-climbing gear.
I had some distant friends who “rock-climbed”, and I twisted their arm into letting me tag along with them sometime. I went with them once or twice and had an absolute blast. An outdoor experience, that is social, and pushes myself physically and mentally, I was hooked. My friends didn’t go climbing often as most of them were taking off for college, so I decided that I needed to learn so that I could go. Initially, I was motivated to learn so that I could take girls on dates to go rock climb. As any good millennial would do, I hopped on YouTube and started some crash courses. Learning how to belay, to set and clean a route, and what the ratings mean on a climb. All the “know-how” you must learn to be able to use the equipment that I had been given.
After a few videos I took a friend to go and try out my rock-climbing equipment and new-found knowledge. After regurgitating the video that taught me how to belay to my friend, I tied a knot, another application from a video, and sent the route. There was a lot of room for serious error, but everything went well. A total success. That friend and I started to climb quite a bit that summer. Each time learning something new. Between meeting new people and taking some whips we began to know our way around Wasatch climbing that summer. Of course, we weren’t sending any serious routes, but we successfully learned how to sport climb.
When winter came around, and college started again, I was desperate for some sort of activity that wasn’t as expensive or time consuming as skiing but was more engaging and “fun” than a classic gym. Initially, climbing gyms seemed super unattractive. No views, no real rock, no outdoor adventure – essentially none of my favorite parts of climbing. I was desperate for some sort of way to keep me active during the winter and school year and I had a real desire to become better at rock climbing. After of a month of going to the gym I was hooked. While I had learned how to use all the rock-climbing equipment that summer, I never gave any thought to technique and pushing myself to do harder routes, which is the focus at the gym. I found a group of climbers at the gym and started to frequently climb with them. After discovering bouldering, where I didn’t need a partner, I would sometimes go twice a day. Any chance I got between classes or work, I was at the gym. I started to climb harder and harder routes. I was keeping up with the guys who had been climbing for years, after only climbing for a couple of months. My technique was getting better, and I was climbing very demanding routes. I did not understand the importance of warmups or stretching until an injury happened. I came down with a serious case of climber’s elbow. At first, I thought it was just a nagging pain that was part of getting stronger. But the inflammation in my elbow tendons continued to worsen. I kept toughing it out until I couldn’t hold myself up at all.
Again, I hopped on YouTube and took the crash courses for treating my elbow. Learning different stretches and exercises to strengthen my elbow. Taking about a month of rest and stretching consistently helped, but I still couldn’t climb nearly the same stuff that I was before without aggravating my elbow again. As a broke college student, I was in no situation to go and see an orthopedic doctor. I kept resting, stretching, and working out my elbow hoping that something would click and my elbow would be healed. The more I learned about climber’s elbow and the inflammation that occurs, the more unlikely a sudden cure seemed possible.
For my job I help process CBD oil out of hemp, I was learning a lot about how CBD helps various health concerns such as inflammation, but I never put 2 and 2 together. One day I took a CBD roll-on home from work and applied it to my routine. Applying it before and after I got to the gym. After 1 week, I didn’t feel any pain in my elbow, and in 2-3 weeks I was climbing a few grades higher than I was before my injury. I continued to stretch and work out my elbow the whole time. I realized that everything came together – stretching, CBD, and working out the tendons – and my elbow had been cured. Since then, I still haven’t felt any pain in that elbow. I continue to stretch and apply CBD every day, with a very thorough warm-up before I climb.
Rock climbing is a great activity, combining the outdoors, with pushing yourself physically and mentally, and with the great community and social aspect. However, as any climber would agree, injury prevention is the name of the game. I have a CBD roll-on in my climbing bag, next to the hand salve, sander’s block, and climber’s tape. The CBD roll-on is part of the warmup and cool down routine. My journey through climbing has been roughly about one year, so far, but I am fully committed. Every weekend I am traveling and sending new routes or old projects.