When I first started to cycle and climb seriously in my early 20’s, I was obsessed with gear.
This was pre-Internet days. So like most people, I spent a lot of time skimming catalogs and reading magazines like Climbing. Also, many hours were spent in the local bike and climbing shops talking to the owners and other customers while eyeing and touching the new gear.
(Please support your local bike and mountain shops.)
I guess gear is important in the beginning because everything in the sport is new and success is often proportional to the amount of gear one has their pack.
“If I had lighter wheels, I could be faster.”
“If I had a no. 4 Friend, I could lead that crack.”
Plus gear is fun. It makes you part of a community. It provides you with an identity. How many times have you seen a biner clipped to a pack?
Anyways, gear is important as one learns their craft and gains experience. But as one gets more proficient, less gear is needed.
Watch a solid climber climb; they hardly place any gear as compared to a beginner who sews up a 5.5 crack. And the truly great ones (e.g., John B.) just solo.
This also applies to bikes. A talented cyclist on a DYI single speed can put the hammer down and beat most people to the line. There’s no greater joy in life than a single speed passing a $5000 Seven.
More experience allows one to travel with less gear, but I think there’s more to it than that.
As one grows older, I think most people just don’t want to deal with all that crap. As I head into the mountains these days, I tend to take less and less. I just want to get moving and enjoy my time.
And when comes to cycling, that’s the beauty of one gear bikes - less parts to break, more time to ride.
This all comes back to “one gear conquers all”, which is another way of saying that you really don’t need all that gear in life if you have the skills to get the job done.