When we watch rock climbing on television or in a big Hollywood movie, the focus is always on the physicality of the sport, the toll it takes on the bodies of climbers.
Indeed, rock climbing is one of the most physically demanding sports on offer, which explains why so many people have started to join rock climbing gyms in recent years. But there’s another angle to this impressive sport, one that pushes climbers, pros and amateurs alike, to their absolute limits.
The psychological component of rock climbing and bouldering cannot be ignored, especially when it comes to real-world climbing, where a small mistake could potentially lead to a serious injury or even death.
This is why climbers need to pay just as much attention to their minds as their muscles. In the end, it’s a safety precaution. Climbers need to be prepared to deal with any number of problems and variables that could affect the way they climb.
Vents recently interviewed award-winning professional climber Deborah Albuquerque to find out more about how climbers train and push themselves, and each other, to new heights.
When did you first decide that you wanted to be a professional climber?
When I started competing and realized I could get really good at it! Besides, my whole journey in this sport has been so fluid that it’s made me realize this was something to keep following and developing.
Would you say that climbers tend to share certain personality traits? Or do many different kinds of people flock to climbing?
I’d say there are some type of personalities that relate to the sport easily but there’s a wide range of personalities. For example, people who enjoy the outdoors, nature, adventures, as well as people who enjoy engaging their minds, cracking puzzles, logical people such as programmers, but also people that are creative and artistic, who enjoy expressing themselves, will identify with it. And if you are all of these, like me, you will certainly love rock climbing.
What has been your proudest achievement so far, as a climber?
In climbing, I feel I’m always achieving big and small goals and they are all as significant. For the last few months, I have started trying harder outdoor climbs and I’m very proud of myself. But if I have to mention the big and recognized moments I’ve achieved so far, it would be winning overall first place in the Intermediate North Face Tristate Bouldering series 2019 and winning first place in the last stage of Brazil’s Midwest Pro’s Regionals 2019, finishing second overall for the season.
Do you ever feel the need to document your climbs with photos and videos?
Yes! I’ve been documenting my climbing from the beginning and it’s awesome to be able to see my progress.
How do you know how far you can push yourself? Is it something you’ve learned over time?
The more I work on my mind I realize that we are the ones setting our own limits and so we’re the ones that can break them as well, so I balance listening to my body with pushing myself beyond what I believe is possible, a bit more every time.
“The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers” by Arno Ilgner is a series of books and training clinics that have been really helpful to me.
Has your approach to climbing affected how you approach other hobbies?
I believe so. I think climbing has made me more confident in myself and more persistent, and that affects all other areas of my life. The way I function has completely changed for the better.
Do you think the general public is becoming more aware of the intricacies of climbing and how hard climbers have to work?
Maybe, because climbing is becoming more well-known and it does look complex and challenging when people start analyzing it, but at the same time, climbing is to be experienced, and when climbers are able to reach their state of flow while practicing, it’s very simple and objective. Of course, to achieve greatness it’s necessary to back that up with a lot of dedication and training.
Do you have any advice for young climbers just getting started?