Entering the Flow State: Climbing Crazy Horse

Tim Gillespie
January 16, 2024

Breathe in, breathe out

Clear your mind. Focus. 

Feet match, left hand crosses over. 

Transfer weight to the right. 

Right foot across to the ledge, right hand up. 

Breathe. Focus.

I’ve visualized this sequence countless times.


Right hand keeps the grip, left toe to the nub. 

Right foot steps up, left hand stretches for the grip begins to slip, calves shaking uncontrollably, arms pump out. 


My belayer catches me as I whip. 

Black Hole Sun, the infamous 6b+, has evaded once again.


Crazy Horse Buttress rises above rice paddies outside the cultural and vibrant city of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Defined by an unmissable horse-shaped outcrop (thus its namesake), this soaring limestone buttress is a haven for rock climbing and outdoor enthusiasts. 

Whether you are new to climbing, a seasoned veteran or just out to explore a cave, Crazy Horse has something to offer.


For me, a day out at the crag encompasses many aspects.  

It’s a place to be in nature. A recreational arena to challenge my physical limits.  

A sanctuary to enrich my inner spirituality. A gathering of friends old and new. 

A chance for me to be fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, often referred to as the flow state.


Climbing brings out the best in me. Or perhaps, it just affords me the time to simplify things and to focus on the task at hand. 

As I tie the rope to my harness I envision the route, running the cadences through my mind.  

Up on the rock, I control my breath, clearing my mind knowing that it’s just me and my movements.  

I let all fear and anxiety dissipate, putting full trust in my belay partner.

I enter the flow state.

I live completely in the present, as if in a meditative trance.

There aren’t many activities where I find myself 100% in the zone or in the moment, but climbing is definitely one that I do.

The self confidence and euphoria experienced while in a flow state doesn't necessarily just happen. It takes work.

Researchers have identified a few conditions necessary to reach the flow state:

Have clear goals for your activity

When I'm climbing, my efforts are immediately available because I know exactly what my goal is.

I stand at the bottom of the rock, I see my goal at the top. I see my line, and I trust it.

Your abilities need to match your challenge

For me, climbing is the perfect match of ability and challenge.

If it were too easy for me, I'd become bored and distracted. if it were to difficult for me, I'd become discouraged and again - distracted.

You need to be able to focus 100% on what you're doing

Climbing doesn't exactly allow for multi-tasking. It FORCES me to focus deeply on each movement.

When I'm in the groove, I'm no longer focused so much on my end goal - but the process it takes to get there.

I'm fully present in each moment, and it's one of the greatest feelings in the world.


Have you experienced this ecstatic state of free flow? If so, you know the feeling that I’m describing.  

If not, I challenge you to seek and discover a new activity that allows you to completely center your attention on the present moment.

Co-authored with Lindsey Dukes

Tim Gillespie
Tim is U30X's Thailand Manager & Community Builder, and has been living, traveling and accumulating experiences in SE Asia since 2009. He loves being in the outdoors, immersing himself in local cultures, and tasting exotic foods.


last minute deals


As Seen In...