Try Some­thing New

Gripped - - NOTES FROM THE TOP - Story by Vikki Wel­don Con­tin­ued on page 62

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

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