In my younger days while road-tripping with my parents and siblings, we stopped at a rest area to make sandwiches and have lunch. I was about 18 years old. Having a few minutes with nothing to do, there was a nearby rock wall, nearly vertical and about 25 feet high. The rocks were big, about beach ball size and bigger, and the wall to my untrained eye offered many footholds and handholds. So I decided to climb up a bit.
It was fun and a little challenging, and pretty soon I found myself 15 feet up. The climb up was fairly straightforward, with some challenging parts, but not too bad.
Being 15 feet up, I did not want to climb much higher, in case I fell. I didn’t want to get too badly hurt. So I decided to climb down.
I was surprised to find that the climb down was much more challenging than the climb up. What had been a fairly straightforward climb up now took maybe 4x the time to get down. I eventually made it down but to my young brain I was stymied. Why the big disparity?
Once on the ground, lunch was ready and we were called back to the car and picnic table. But I stopped for a few minutes to study the wall and figure out… why???
That’s when I realized it’s all about your eyes. Your eyes are perfectly positioned to study your handholds and footholds when climbing up. But when going down your eyes are far from the footholds you will need to use, and your view of them isn’t ideal — they’re seen from above instead of from the same height, and it’s harder to judge their suitability (will it be sturdy? is it big enough for my foot?).
A nearly-vertical rock is more extreme than a set of stairs, but in the continuum between a flat sidewalk and a vertical rock wall you have all sorts of inclined surfaces, from mild ramps and mild stairs, to steeper ramps / stairs / paths, to severe stairs / ladders / trees / hills, etcetera. But the limitation applies to them all —
It’s all about your eyes.