Make Climbing Your Own
Rock climbing can be an intimidating sport. There’s the gear, the secret-code-like language, the ego, and the risk. But with the rise of indoor climbing gyms and a more inclusive and welcoming community, the time is ripe for more people to get involved.
I began climbing five years ago when an ex-boyfriend took me to a local crag and threw me on a rope. I was hooked. While the boyfriend went by the wayside, I found a new sport in my mid-20s that would change the direction of my life.
Making climbing my own, and not something that I would only do with an intimate partner, was not easy. I didn’t know anyone in my local rock climbing community. Walking into a climbing gym full of people who didn’t look like me was discouraging. That’s why organizations like Flash Foxy, which is dedicated to celebrating women climbing and creating places where women can feel inspired and connected to each other, are so important.
COVID-19 has changed the way that we can climb, so I checked in with Flash Foxy to find out their top tips for how to climb responsibly this summer.
1. Be prepared to be flexible. Your personal mission is not more important than the health and safety of others.
2.Climb with people in your household—ditch your squad and avoid crowds. Remember that these need to be people whom you trust and have fun with. Having complete confidence in your partners is key to keeping a clear mind and being able to focus on what you’re doing on the wall. Knowing they have your spot or a safe belay can make or break how you perform
3. If your local crag or boulder is occupied, save your send for another day! If you can climb outside, keep space for passing hikers and fellow climbers when spotting or belaying. Educate yourself on the area. Use hand sanitizer before and after you climb. Know if there are any restoration acts in place. Do not leave trash and pick up what you see. If you’re bringing your dog, be mindful of how that affects others and the area. Be a good steward of the earth and respectfully educate those who aren’t.
4. Be safe! Climbing is dangerous. Know how to fall if you’re bouldering and how to be a conscious spotter for your partners. Do regular safety checks if you’re on ropes and communicate with those around you. Remember to stay safe and that hospitals and other resources are being used for COVID patients. First responders and police cannot social distance in an emergency. Be respectful and mindful of your safety and theirs.
5. If you can’t climb responsibly, watch a YouTube video instead. You can learn a lot by watching other climbers. Seeing how varying body sizes and shapes execute routes differently can help you understand movement on the wall. There’s never one right way to do something.
This article originally appeared in SISU Magazine.