AO PHOTO BOOK
We experience different moments throughout our lives. Some of them hopeful and glorious, others disappointing and painful. The book shows you some of those moments, whether significant milestones or glimpses of ordinary life. Those brief flashes, no matter how insignificant they may seem, are essential for me. You can enjoy just studying each on its own, but put them together, and you will get a completely new picture, which is hiding more than it might have seemed. Hopefully, once you read through the book, you will better understand who I am and how much climbing truly means to me.
In general, do we, as humans, like to get out of our comfort zone or not? I would say we generally hate it. We want to have the feeling of safety. Stepping out of the boundaries is difficult and requires courage. But that also means stepping out of our boredom and experiencing the real spice of our lives. It takes a lot of effort to step out of it, but once you are there, you feel as free as ever. And I believe that’s a great feeling.
But there are different levels of comfort zones. I built my life around climbing which is an incredibly broad activity. You can climb in artificial gym, you can climb outdoors, you can climb 1meter high boulderproblem or 1000 meter wall. I absolutely feel in my comfort zone when I sport climb. That is where I was born and raised to a certain extent. I feel ABSOLUTELY out of my comfort zone in any other sport, especially team games, but I feel much more comfortable when the activity is still connected to climbing. Recently, I stepped into the trad climbing game. So many people see trad climbing with all the gear, risk, and completely different climbing style because you have to climb mostly crack, as a completely different sport. It may be, but it is still climbing. It is something I love.
I was tempted to go and check it out, and I was willing to step out of my comfort zone. And it turned out it was not million miles away from my comfort zone. But it was intimidating enough. I got excited, I got scared, but ultimately, it was so rewarding. And it was the ultimate essence which makes climbing so fascinating for me.
Find the little step out of your comfort zone in your life. You do not have to go too far, just a little bit. But it will make you smile, it will make you happy. It will make you feel like you are alive in this world. It is worth it.
I believe climbing gathers people of similar values. I feel good in the climbing community. I believe that the average climber is friendlier, more honest and more open-minded than the average person on the street. I like being surrounded by such people. I always like to say that climbing shaped my personality, but possibly it is more the climbers I have met who truly influenced my personality and character.
Firstly, climbers have passion. There’s a fire inside your heart for climbing up. Who has this fire, no matter the level, is a climber to me. Who does not possess it, no matter the climbing level, is not a true climber. It is this irrational craving for climbing higher, to make some obscure moves. You must have a little bit of an adventurer inside of you. We all go climbing because we want to experience something new. Even though we might be trying one single route for 1000th time, there is still something we can explore. In our minds it is the new experience of climbing, the flow of its lightness. Or the infinite fight.
Climbers are also creative. In order to come up with the best possible sequences, you need to think outside of the box. Some climbers use creativity only for their climbing, but most of them have brilliant ideas in so many different fields.
Climbing is an individual sport in the sense that when you are climbing, it is only up to you whether you will stick the next hold or fall off. But in a different sense, it is also a team activity. Sharing climbing and appreciating those moments with your friends is an essential part of it. It can be with your long-time friends or random dudes who you just met at a crag. It does not matter. We are all one family. We climb and we like it.
When I travel around the world, I get the chance to meet thousands of climbers. And it has been an incredible opportunity to learn. It is not only my chance for learning languages, but also for getting to know the world a little bit better through the climbers. Recently, it has been very interesting to visit countries where climbing is quite an unknown sport and only practised by a very few passionate individuals. In the Balcan countries, where the wounds of war are still not healed, climbing is only just starting. It takes true pioneers to establish the first climbing routes or climbing gyms in the cities. Yet, the climbing scene is somewhat even more exciting. Their sheer excitement about the fact that I came to visit their beautiful countries, to share their crags with me was awesome. I could only spend just a few days with them, but during that time it often felt like we knew each other for years. Their small communities of climbers hold strongly together and I do not think this kind of bond is that frequent in the climbing-developed countries nowadays.
I love climbing. With all of my soul, with all of my heart. I love travelling around for the purpose of climbing, seeing new cultures, meeting new people. I love being exposed to height, I love being high up on the wall, feeling the air and the wind. I love climbing even easy routes. But I love challenging myself. Climbing beyond your limit is the essential spice of climbing. When I am asked why I always want to climb hard routes, and why I just don’t go climbing the easy routes - the answer is that I occasionally do, but climbing the easy routes is simply not as funny as climbing the hard ones. Pushing myself to my limits is part of the fun that I want to have when I climb. It is not just the ambition itself.
Since I was a little kid, I have always wanted to climb as good as possible. Just simple climbing routes were not enough, I wanted to climb it in a good style. And the harder I was climbing, the more challenging the climbing got. And in a way, the more interesting it was. If the route is easy, there are usually more ways of getting to the top. You can take any and you are not forced to be too creative. The harder you climb, the more obscure and creative your climbing moves can get. There is no essentiall way to get to the top when you climb the hard routes, but the easiest way to the top is often very personal and you have to find the one that feels the easiest for you.
I would lie if I would not admit that it does not feel good to tell myself that I climb the world’s hardest routes, but it is not the primary motivation. If I look at 9c and compare it with the neighbouring 8a, the 9c looks more attractive to me. More impressive, less accessible, I’m just tempted to go and check it out. In the 9c, I will be challenged, I will be forced to use all the tricks that I have learnt as a climber. 8a will be a route that I will likely send, have some fun and walk away. But I would not use all my skills. Climbing beyond your limits is not suffering, it is actually great. It often does not even leave you completely empty and tired. I just know I tried hard and that’s it. There is this feeling when you make the moves over your total limit, when you have no idea whether the next move will end up in a fall or not, but you just keep going. You do not think about it, you just go for it. The absolute presence of the moment. How addictive is that…