Try Something New
We all enter the world of climbing through different avenues. We may be introduced to the remote peaks of mountaineering or the tall spires of alpine climbing. We may first witness climbing as a crack climb, where our bodies must fit within the crack to succeed. We may be attracted to the gymnastic nature and relative simplicity of sport climbing or the powerful nature of bouldering, drawn to the pure focus on movement alone. Whether our introduction begins in the wilds of the mountains or the chalky haze of the gym, in the end, we all get pulled down the rabbit hole.
For a sport with so many different genres, it’s not surprising that climbers love labels and generalizations. A stereotypical trad climber, for example, is a crack head that thrives on rebellion, controversy and the simplicity of dirt-bag living. On the other end of the spectrum, sport climbers are the thin, brightly-dressed athletes that hang permadraws, micro-analyze each foot smear and sequence and loudly shout beta to strangers. Boulderers are the knuckle-dragging neanderthals that shoulder mattresses on their backs and yell at small rocks. Mountaineers are those crusty old men (and crusty women) that like a good swig of whisky and walking up hills. The alpine climbers are the tortured souls and outcasts from society that find solace on remote peaks while wearing the same pair of stinky underwear for weeks.
Stereotypes aside, climbers tend to gravitate towards one genre of the sport. There’s always something that draws us to that discipline, whether it is the freedom of the alpine or the physicality of bouldering. In general, the majority of climbers choose one discipline and specialize. We begin to define ourselves by that specialty, finding a style that suites our strengths and ignites our passion for the sport. For myself, I am a sport climber. My entire upbringing was centred on sport climbing and the majority of my achievements are within the discipline. I absolutely love sport climbing. I love the pure focus of movement over rock, pushing the boundaries of my body on a single rock climb. It was my introduction to the sport and it has turned into my passion.
For climbing being known as such an adventurous sport, it seems surprising that so many climbers stick to their comfort zone. Many climbers may have no interest in broadening their scope, f inding perfect contentment in their bouldering pad or their rack of quick-draws. Others may want to try something new and different, but something might be holding them back. Perhaps it is fear of the unknown, fear of failure or worse, fear of what others may think. It is a sad thought that the climbing world can sometimes be like one giant schoolyard, where other climbers judge, scrutinize and scorn. Take for example, Daniel Woods attempting to crack climb for the first time or Sasha DiGiulian attempting to alpine climb.
Left: Vikki Weldon on Freeway 5.11 on The Chief in Squamish