It’s the end of a long day, and your arms are tired and sunburnt. You got up at 5:30 a.m. to drive to the crag, shook your way up the warm-up due to over-caffeination, gave your project five unsuccessful but solid burns, and then decided to climb “fun” routes for the rest of the day. It’s now 8:30 p.m., and you’re ready for a break before you cook dinner, fall asleep, and hopefully do it all again. This is the perfect time for an end of the day brew. If you’ve just topped out a multi-pitch route and have perfect views of the sunset, it’s an even better time, especially since you hauled that heavy (and now warm) beer all the way up there.
No, beer isn’t the optimal post-climbing recovery beverage. Nor is any other form of alcohol. It probably won’t help you send tomorrow, and it’s certainly not health food. But it does represent an important part of a healthy (climbing) lifestyle: not taking life and our sport too seriously.
When you’re sitting on a rock enjoying a PBR with your favorite partner(s), you’re not worried about getting in a few extra push-ups or a hangboard session, obsessing about how many calories you’re sipping on, anxious about that one awkward clip or cam placement, or wondering if your partner thinks you’re a weakling for not sending that 5.12b you tried three times today. None of those are “the point” of climbing. Challenging yourself and enjoying others’ company in the outdoors, on the other hand, is a large part of what makes our sport fun and special. You can play months of rec volleyball and learn virtually nothing about your teammates. Climb with someone for a day, and you’ll know half their life story.
You don’t have to enjoy an end of the day brew every time you climb–or any time you climb–to have a relaxed, positive attitude toward scaling rocks. However, understanding that climbing is about trying hard (and occasionally not trying that hard) while having fun with your favorite bouldering and/or belay buds is imperative. Yes, we destroy our abs on the TRX, our fingers on the beastmaker, and our biceps cranking out sets of pull-ups, but at the end of the day you probably won’t remember most of those grueling hangboard pull-ups like you will the sunny afternoon you lounged on crash pads sipping a slightly warm beer with your friends.
So, whether you love a cold pale ale or can’t stand the taste of beer, remember to take time to relax and enjoy the successes, challenges, lessons, and relationships that climbing has brought you. Train hard, but don’t obsess over every minute detail of every workout or every morsel of organic, whole-grain, minimally-processed, grass-fed superfood that you ingest.
Enjoying an end of the day treat is not just okay; it’s highly recommended.