How the Climbing Gym Could be Your Home Away from Home
For many folks, rock climbing is more than a sport, and the climbing gym ends up being their home away from home. Climbing doesn't just mean the act of moving up an object. Rock climbing doesn't just mean scaling plastic holds bolted on a plywood wall or climbing up a granite rock face. Climbing or rock climbing is equally synonymous with community. These are bold statements, but we're prepared to defend them.
Rooted in History
The history of rock climbing speaks for itself. Google “Camp 4 Rock Climbing” to learn about climbing when it was considered the hippie, granola-loving, tree-hugger activity. The sport's pioneers out West, like Royal Robbins, Tom Frost, and Yvon Chouinard, banded together on and off the wall. Whether climbing Yosemite's big walls or making pitons in an old garage, the original climbers fostered a community. Ask any long-time climber today, and they'll vouch that rock climbing is and always has been, equally a social and physical activity.
As the sport has evolved from dirtbag climbers sleeping out of cars to the modern commercialized system of indoor gyms and structured organizations, it hasn't lost its heart. Community is what makes climbing stand out from any other sport.
Slowly but Surely
As cheesy as it sounds, sooner or later, you will find yourself absorbed in your climbing gym's community, and it'll be your home away from home.
It happens like this: the more you frequent the gym, the more you will note the regulars. As you see them and climb with them week after week, you'll learn each other's names. If you pay close enough attention, you'll realize they probably know many gym members and always say hi to folks. They spend more time saying hi and bye and bouncing from conversation to conversation than actually getting on the wall and climbing. Over time, you will meet more climbers and learn more names your network growing like a web, each branch creating two new ones. Then, before you know it, you'll be one of the regulars that newer climbers start to notice.
The tight-knit climbing community is inspiring. It inevitably draws you in! Why? Because going into a climbing gym is a rare social experience in an increasingly anti-social world.
The Climbing Gym is a Special Place
Hopefully, you will understand how a climbing gym is a special place. But, you might also feel anxious about meeting new people, initiating conversation, and just social interaction in general. We just emerged from a global (isolating) pandemic, so those feelings are valid.
But, you'll find that friendly staff, kind and social climbers, and love for the sport will keep you returning to the gym. Making friends and meeting people is simpler than you imagined, especially when you all share a passion for the sport.
And that's another thing. As you fall deeper in love with the sport, it transitions from a passion to a way of life. You'll make belaytionships and meet training buddies and other rad people. Coming to the gym will become a joy, a respite from the turbulence of the rest of your life. Stepping through the front doors of the climbing gym is like washing off the worries. Your climbing friends and community don't care about the project you blew at work or your failed test. They only care about supporting you in conquering the challenges climbing brings and the content of your characters. Climbers are generally down-to-earth, go-lucky people, and that's all they expect in return.
You can sit here and continue reading about the climbing community's power and how it fosters a home-like environment. We can awe you with majestic descriptions and anecdotes about the power of immersing yourself within your local climbing community. But, truthfully, a climbing gym can only become a second home if you go and experience it for yourself. Let us know in the comments below when you realize your local gym has become your home away from home!