8 Common Climbing Diseases and Their Cures

By Ryan Siacci, Esq. ,

Almost every climber is afflicted with some form of malady, and sadly, many of these go undiagnosed and untreated. Every day, at crags around the country, people are climbing with the burden of an unchecked, treatable illness. It’s a national tragedy.

Thankfully, with better medical technology and improved diagnostic abilities, we’re now able to identify these diseases in their early stages. But we still need your help. Our hope is that this document may raise awareness and help prevent needless suffering.

Onsightis

This condition generally presents as obsessiveness with the act of climbing every route on the first attempt, every time. Mild onsightis does not often cause the patient any discomfort and can actually be seen to provide some modest benefits, however it has been known to supress redpoint grades in chronic sufferers.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Noticeable lack of enthusiasm for repeated attempts
  • Demanding/needy, especially at new crags
  • Resistance to attempting overly difficult routes
  • May display aggression toward unwanted beta in advanced cases

Treatment

  • Gentle application of harder routes for the purpose of stimulating the red and pinkpoint glands.

Related: The 6 Best Tips for Becoming the Worst Trad Climber

Cragger's Malaise

Just like the common cold, this illness is surprisingly rampant for the simple fact that prevention is so difficult. Little is known about the causes of cragger's malaise and its effects can be shockingly debilitating, leading sufferers to view climbing as more of a social pursuit than an athletic one.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Overly chatty
  • Maximum of 2-3 routes in one session
  • Patient displays preference for beer over climbing
  • Usually accompanied by low level of skill or ability

Treatment

  • No definitive cure exists. Most professionals recommend tolerance rather than intervention. Occasionally resolves without treatment.

Obsessive Tick-Listive Disorder

Also known as “Buzzfeeding”, damage to the right mesial prefrontal cortex can result in abnormal collecting behavior. In the sport of climbing, this lends itself to list-ticking and peak-bagging, practices which value completion of an arbitrary list over objective quality of the routes contained therein.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Patient climbs horrible shit for no good reason
  • Often accompanied by shameless guidebook fetish
  • Acquired choss resistance and skewed risk acceptance

Treatment

  • An immediate course of crags with horrific rock quality or protection
  • Most cases will be resolved with a one-time application of loose Eldorado Canyon "classics" or Fisher Towers mud climbing.

Boltulism

Doctors and scientists have been unable to reach consensus on a definitive explanation for boltulism. High-functioning patients have been known to produce many quality routes, despite the odd squeeze or contrivance, whereas severe cases can manifest in full-blown gridbolt mania. All patients are grouped by the overwhelming desire to “get their name in the guidebook”.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Often financially unstable due to hardware purchases
  • Observes “phantom lines”, a condition similar to colorblindness, in which vague and spurious routes are reported by the patient. Often results in link ups.
  • Sometimes narcissistic
  • Places bolts in unstable geological formations

Treatment

  • Removal of drill privileges, followed by bedrest

Related: 5 Pretty Darn Good Reasons Not to Climb in Australia

Partneraphobia

Essentially a condition which results in anti-social tendencies, mild cases often present as a preference for "exploratory missions" to "scope lines" and "check conditions" in wilderness areas, in which partners are not invited. However, if left untreated, this disease can lead to some really weird shit like bouldering alone and rope soloing.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Patient avoids human contact
  • Unexplained disappearances
  • Strong odor, questionable hygiene
  • Often found in possession of unusual gear, including but not limited to traction devices and aid gear

Treatment

  • Gradual reintroduction to social stimulus and bathing
  • Proven effective if paired with a high quality single-pitch cragging experience

HPV (Human Projecting Virus)

It has been hypothesized that HPV was spread to humans through contact with bats. Proponents of this theory argue that this is the reason for which HPV sufferers tend to spend a majority of their time in caves, flapping their arms about in a sort of interpretive dance known as “sequencing.”

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pallid appearance and engorged forearms
  • Fixation/obsession with a single route. Can often last months, sometimes years
  • Speaks only in numerals
  • Comfortable hanging upside down, yet finds walking difficult

Treatment

  • Exposure to multipitch adventure routes where prior inspection is impossible.
  • Prescription of a broad-spectrum ticklist which can remedy deficiencies such as slab and crack

Malignant Ego

Inflammation and swelling of the ego can lead to an inflated opinion of oneself. If left untreated, the inner asshole will expand and devour other elements of the patient’s character. Highly contagious.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Holier than thou
  • Toothy appearance, snarls often, occasional frothing at mouth
  • Unable to refrain from unsolicited beta-spraying
  • Calls all your hardest ticks “soft for the grade”
  • Denigrates every style of climbing except for their own

Treatment

  • Patients will need to undergo a delicate medical procedure where their head will be removed from their anus.

Related: In Defense of the European Death Knot

Chronic Overseriousness

If you find yourself offended by any of the above descriptions, you may be suffering from Chronic Overseriousness. It may be possible that you’re taking climbing too seriously.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Offense taken
  • Currently limbering up fingers to launch a blistering social media tirade
  • Often found in comments sections of websites/social media
  • Sufferers tend to insist that climbing is not a "sport," but a "form of self expression"

Treatment

  • Chill out
  • Get off the Internet and go outside

If you observe any of these symptoms in your friends or in yourself, don’t delay. Consult your crag doctor as soon as possible. Together, we can beat common climbing diseases.

Ryan Siacci is on an epic, year-long climbing roadtrip after reporting on the planning phase here. You can catch more of his tales from the road and the crag at Zen and the Art of Climbing or on Facebook.

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