The bouldering addiction test

Bouldering in Pawtuckaway State Park, New Hampshire

The author bouldering in Pawtuckaway State Park, New Hampshire

[With apologies to Dr. Kimberly Young, developer of the IAT, a genuine clinical questionnaire for assessing Internet addiction.]

Conceptually, the diagnosis is a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder that involves the following four components: 1) excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time while rock climbing, 2) feelings of tension and/or depression when not bouldering or sport climbing, 3) tolerance, including the incessant need for better climbing shoes and more novel or challenging climbing trips, and 4) negative repercussions, including fatigue, loss of interest in regular employment, and living in the back of a used van.

To assess your level of addiction, answer the following questions using this scale:
1 = Rarely. 2 = Occasionally. 3 = Frequently. 4 = Often. 5 = Always.

  • How often do you find that your climbing sessions go longer than you intended?
  • How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time bouldering?
  • How often do you prefer the excitement of the send to intimacy with your partner?
  • How often do you form new relationships with fellow climbers?
  • How often do nonclimbers in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend bouldering and rock climbing?
  • How often do your grades or school work suffer because of the amount of time you spend on climbing trips and working out at the rock gym?
  • How often do you squeeze in a bouldering session before something else that you need to do?
  • How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of rock climbing?
  • How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do at the rock gym?
  • How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of vertical ascents?
  • How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go cragging again?
  • How often do you fear that life without rock climbing would be boring, empty, and joyless?
  • How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone comes between you and climbing?
  • How often do you lose sleep due to late-night climbing sessions?
  • How often do you feel preoccupied with climbing when away from the crags, or fantasize about being on a favorite sport route?
  • How often do you find yourself saying “just a few more minutes” when working a project?
  • How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend climbing and fail?
  • How often do you try to hide how long you’ve been pulling plastic in a gym session?
  • How often do you choose to spend more time bouldering over going out with non-climbers?
  • How often do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are not climbing, which goes away once you are back sending routes?

Depth of your addiction:

20 – 49 points: You may go overboard at times, but your bouldering remains under control.
50 -79 points: You are teetering on the brink of addiction.
80 – 100 points: Climbing has taken over your life.

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