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Triple Divide Lodge

rock climbing and mental health triple divide lodge

Does Rock Climbing Affect Mental Health?

Rock Climbing and Mental Health

While rock climbing is not your everyday sport like soccer and basketball it is still celebrated around the world with an avid following. The basics are that you use a harness and ropes to scale a rock wall either in the wilderness or there are plenty of manufactured versions at gyms across the country that use rubber handholds affixed to a fake rock surface. What makes it so popular with so many people? For one, it is a challenging sport. Rock climbing is not only physically demanding, but it also requires a great deal of mental focus and concentration. In fact, recent studies have shown that rock climbing can have a positive impact on mental health. One study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that rock climbing can lead to improvements in focus, memory, and planning ability. In addition, the study found that rock climbers had lower levels of anxiety and depression. Rock climbing requires intense concentration and problem-solving skills, which can help to sharpen the mind. As a result, it ends up teaching patience as well. 


Rock Climbing is More Than Standard Exercise

Exercise, in general, is known to release endorphins and improve mood. However, rock climbing provides a unique form of exercise that engages both the body and the mind. Climbers must constantly assess their next move, plan their route, and remain aware of their surroundings. This requires a high level of focus and concentration, which can help to sharpen the mind and improve cognitive function. In addition, the challenge of overcoming difficult obstacles can help to boost confidence and self-esteem. So whether you’re looking to get in shape or just want to give your mental health a boost, rock climbing may be the perfect activity for you. Some people like to graduate to more competitive versions eventually but one of the advantages of this sport is that you don’t have to master it to feel accomplished. Even doing regular outings, however small, can give you all the same benefits. 


Mental Benefits of Rock Climbing

Doing high adventure activities can be very daunting and are especially triggering for your body’s fear response. While this sounds like something you want to avoid, it is very beneficial to understand what and how your body responds to stressors as a means to override your fight or flight response. In doing this, you can incorporate therapeutic strategies to preempt many runaway and intrusive thoughts. It also helps to develop mindfulness. The better you understand yourself in the moment, the better you can understand how you might react in future situations. Emotional self-regulation is critical while doing high adventure activities to offset panic, anxiety, and other types of disorders. By forcing yourself into such a vulnerable position, your body helps to override so many of those symptoms and use the sympathetic nervous system to its own advantage to help get you through a difficult activity. 


Triple Divide Lodge and Rock Climbing

How does Triple Divide Lodge incorporate such an exciting activity into their programming? By adding wilderness and adventure aspects into the recovery process! As the benefits above show, it helps improve the mental and physical health of our clients as well as gives them a unique perspective into their own lives. This is only one of many unique offerings available at Triple Divide Lodge with others like hiking, camping, and so much more. If you want to learn more about the unique programming style at Triple Divide Lodge, feel free to contact us and see what we are working on next!



Patrick Hawkins is a Licensed Addictions Counselor. Since 1995 he has been dedicated to working with adolescents and young adults. He began working in this type of model in 1996 and has become a nationally trusted name utilizing the outdoors as a part of substance abuse treatment. He has led over 50 expeditions, accumulated over 1,100 days in the backcountry treating clients, and helped hundreds of young men and their families work toward recovery. Patrick helped teens with substance use disorders during his time as the Clinical Director of a wilderness therapy program for young men with drug and alcohol addictions. An expert in the field of experiential therapy, Patrick has led hundreds of clients on wilderness expeditions and supported their sobriety. Contact him at (406) 296-5776


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