Because climbers are a group that can notoriously laugh at ourselves, this week's blog post is sometimes subtle, but mostly not, nod to all the ways our lives have improved since we started rock climbing! Everyday tasks that were previously hard, are now simple thanks to our climber ingenuity / inhuman strength / alarming lack of patience / inability to give a crap. So how many of these things can you relate to?
Thanks to everyone who came out last Friday night, for the last competition of our Summit Bouldering Series 2015 season! It was also the first comp we have ever held at our brand new Denton location, and I think it's safe to say we christened the place.
A lot of us don't realize the effect that climbing has had on our lives until we think about how normal people going about their daily business, i.e. not crimping on EVERYTHING and not putting one single sticker on their car. We climbers are a unique bunch, and we're not shy about just doing our thing! Here are some of the 30 subtle, and not so subtle ways that climbers make themselves be known.
I think we all have that friend — you know, the one that seems to be able to climb endlessly without even breaking a sweat. Yes, we all have that friend and secretly hate that friend but let's face it — we are NOT that friend. We gotta train our endurance, and battle the pump when things start getting real. Unless your forearms are made of some sort of iron, then endurance training is always a benefit — especially if you are signed up / going to sign up for our 12 Hours of Summit Suffering comp.
Anyone with a Facebook has been subjected, at one point or another, to watching one of Rock and Ice's Weekend Whipper videos. Maybe you were tagged in the video by that one friend, reminding you of that one time you short-roped them, or had it shared on your wall by a non-climbing family member ("OMG WOW, *insert name here*, THINKING OF U") who thinks that you take whips that big on a regular basis. Yes Grandma, this is my life. Everyday. Anyways, big falls are an eventuality in climbing — whether or you're taking a screamer off the top of your lead project or blowing the top-out of that high-ball boulder problem, it's extremely important to know how to handle your body in the event of these, or really any, falls. The best way to learn is, of course, to practice, but here are some basic tips to keep in mind next time you're climbing, so as to best avoid injury.
For climber John Ellison, the "crux" of his life is just beginning. If life is a 5.13, he was just served up the double-deadpoint-to-impossible-mono crux move that would stop many climbers in their tracks. In 2011, John was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer that will most likely end up taking his life. Instead of taking the woe-is-me approach, John has decided to spend his remaining time on earth funding research and cures for the disease that has now made his life so difficult. By scheduling his fundraising efforts between his frequent treatments, he has been able to start Climbers Against Cancer, one of the only legitimate organizations solely dedicated to fundraising and raising awareness about cancer entirely within the climbing community. A bit more on the organization and its massive European reach so far.
As I illustrated in my previous post on the history of many climbing terms, climbing's past isn't the neat, sensible topic you'd read in a history book. Our ancestors were a nutty bunch, inventing words and gear on the fly, with little thought as to how much they were affecting the future of climbing, they were so into the now. Without these brave, often impulsive souls making the sport into what they wanted, we would not have many of the gear and phrases we readily have access to today.
Let's face it — we live in Dallas. This is certainly no climbing mecca, or even a great spot for anyone relatively outdoorsy. You can make an active lifestyle in Dallas work if you're creative / a little crazy, but this city definitely won't hand it to you. Boulderites have it easy — they can basically walk out their front door and a five-star crag awaits them. They probably walk their dogs by climbing pros screaming on their 5.trillion project, and sip fair-trade coffee while trail running at 6,000 feet above sea level. Or something like that. But it takes a lot to maintain an active climbing life in Dallas, and we deserve all the bonus points in the world for making it work. I've compiled a list of the best options we Dallasites have as far as touching real (or sometimes manufactured .. hey, we take what we can get) rock in the somewhat near vicinity.
As many of you that have visited our newly remodeled Carrollton location have probably noticed, we have changed up the way we rate problems there. And no, we didn't do it to confuse you guys or be annoying. We've switched over from the classic V-scale widely used in most American gyms, to the circuit system many gyms in Europe utilize. We swear the switch-over was not arbitrary — the circuit system is a more efficient training method, and gives you a more accurate idea of where your skill level is at. Here's the history of this particular system, and why we decided to integrate it into our gym.
The all-around aggressive gym shoe for those on a budget, the La Sportiva Python has surprisingly great edging capabilities for a slipper. Not a newcomer to the climbing scene, but new to the gear shops of all three of our gyms (instead of just being sold at our Dallas location), the Python delivers power, precision, and surprising comfort to a high-performance slipper. Here's the lowdown of this flashy, aggressively down-turned shoe, and why it's a great staple for anyone's shoe arsenal.
As we tore down the panelling to begin our reconstruction project at Summit Carrollton, the dust, chalk and God-knows-what-else from the past 22 years came pouring out of the gym's walls, like smoke from the microwave after you accidentally nuke a fork. (Similes are not my strong suit.) Besides giving us the anticipation of potential future lung problems, the dust brought with it some very strong feelings of nostalgia from a lot of us who have been climbing at this old climbing gym for the past few years. This gym — now Summit, but formerly Exposure — is one of the oldest climbing gyms in the state, as well as the country. A lot of people have graced its walls, (Climber Jack Mileski, who coined the term "beta," actually got his start at Exposure back in the day), and it's seen many, many changes throughout its 22-year history in the Dallas area.
Climbers have a very particular vocabulary. If any outsider were to eavesdrop on a conversation between climbers for even five minutes, they would leave very confused and probably disgusted. Our slang terms get slangier, and shortened, and misspelled until we're left with a language so exclusive, that I'm still learning new words all the time — and I have been in the climbing game for about 13 years now. I compiled a list of 20 of the most common climbing terms that y'all might be interested in hearing the origins of. Let me know if I missed any! GriGri: Believe it or not, the term "GriGri" is derived from Voodoo. Yep, spell castin', doll stabbin' Voodoo. In Voodoo, a "gris gris" is a good luck talisman — thanks to its auto-locking feature, I'd say the GriGri is a pretty good luck charm against your partner's crappy belaying. So be sure to make an animal sacrifice to the Petzl gods, in appreciation for them creating you such a glorious device.
Your body is a machine. A finely-tuned burl-monster that crushes crimps into dust, alters the forces of gravity with every dyno, and mantels so hard the wall topples over. Or something like that, right? Like any machine, your body needs a proper warm-up before performing its mind-bending feats of strength. I mean, you can jam your foot on the accelerator straight after starting up your car, but your rig would go a lot faster a lot sooner if you let the engine warm-up a bit. It's science.
Rules, rules, rules — "Keep off the grass," "Wait here," "Do not feed the alligators" — nothing good in this world comes without some rules. They're necessary, however, for keeping things from devolving into utter chaos. We like to keep it pretty simple here at Summit and like to give people as much freedom as possible, but there are a couple rules of thumb to keep in mind while climbing at any of our gyms. Obviously the original ten commandments apply at Summit, too, like don't kill people, steal things, or power spot your friend's girlfriend (or boyfriend!).
1. Wait Your Turn!
I know climbing is awesome and all, and you're so stoked on your project that you can just barely wait to get on the wall, but slow down, turbo! Is there anyone else waiting to use the same wall space? Have they been patiently waiting longer than you? Make sure you honor the first-come-first-serve rule when waiting to use a popular wall. Also when your turn's up, make sure you capitalize on it. There's nothing worse than waiting on someone whose turn is up and they're dilly-dallying at the bottom of the wall, checking on their chalk, oh is it still there? Yup, there it is, chalk up, oh better check again, where is it? Oh, there it is. Also — no double dipping. If there's a large crowd at your wall and you fall off your problem, don't just hop right back on. Give other people a chance to get on the wall before you collect yourself and give the old proj another go.
2. Keep It Down
Climbing gyms are by no means a library, so feel free to make some noise while at the gym. But try to keep any excessive noise, i.e. screaming and yelling, to a minimum. It's very distracting for anyone else climbing when you're being too loud, and distressing for employees when they come running to the source of screaming and see it's just you clowning around with your friends. You wouldn't yell "Fire!" in the middle of a crowded theater, so please don't scream bloody murder at the climbing gym!
3. No Camping
Unless you brought your bivouac, please no overnights on the wall. Or, perhaps a bit more reasonably, please don't spend an unreasonable amount of time on the wall. If the gym is not busy and no one is waiting on your rope, then feel free to camp out a bit and work the route. But if someone's waiting on the rope, please try to climb as expeditiously as possible, and perhaps save the hang-dogging for a less busy time. If your belayer is also climbing the same route, don't monopolize — give another climber a chance to hop in between the two of y'all's attempts.
4. Tread Carefully
Watch where you're walking when cruising around the gym. Climbing gyms can be minefields of potential hazards if you're not watching your step. Don't walk between a belayer and a climber when the climber is top-roping or lead climbing, and definitely give space to a climber when they are bouldering above you. Basically, give a wide berth to anyone climbing overhead, or walk quickly if you must navigate a potentially hazardous area. Also keep an eye out for items on the ground — chalk buckets can be devastatingly messy when upended.
5. Watch Your Mouth
Our gyms are, after all, family establishments. I'm not saying we're going to wash your mouth out with soap after every little curse, but try to be courteous to any families that may be climbing nearby. Falling on the last move of your project can be a terribly frustrating thing — but if there's a 30-child birthday party on the wall behind you, it might be time to bust out your childhood "curse" words. May I recommend "Fudge!", "Hot pot of coffee!" or possibly "By St. Boogar and all the saints at the backside door of purgatory!" (This is a real curse. I looked it up. The More You Know.)
6. Give 'Em Space
When beginning a climb next to another climber, make sure your routes don't intersect, or share quickdraws or anchors. If intersection is likely, or if the routes are just a little too close for comfort, just wait a little until they are clear of your climbing space. Also keep in mind that there's the potential that the person you are climbing next to could go all Miley Cyrus and come in like a wrecking ball towards you in the event of a fall, so factor in falling when calculating the risk of climbing right next to another climber.
7. Check Your Chalk
Keep tabs on your chalk receptacle of choice when at the gym. If the boulder bucket is more your thing, then make sure it is out of the way of being potentially fallen on, and making a huge mess / being incredibly uncomfortable for the person landing on it. If you use a chalk bag around your waist, be sure to not overfill it — there's less of a chance chalk will come poofing out when you fall. Try not to coat your hands in chalk before climbing — unless you have crazy sweaty hands, most likely you don't need that much chalk and it just ends up coating the floors, and shmarming up the holds. So, easy on the chalk, LeBron.
8. Dress For The Occasion
At Summit, we have a strict shirt-on policy. As sweet as it is to flex shirtless as you're climbing, we will politely have to ask you to keep your shirt on. Nothing against your physique — we just wish to maintain a semi-professional, family-friendly atmosphere at the gym. Make sure the shoes you're climbing in are climbing shoes ( i.e., not your tennis shoes) and also are actual shoes ... and not just your bare feet. Barefoot climbing greases up the holds, and also looks kinda gross. Feel free to walk around the gym barefoot, though. In short, no shirt, no shoes, no service! If you can't buy a pack of gum at 7-eleven in your attire, then it's probably not OK to wear to Summit.
9. Don't Spray
Wrap up the firehose, Fire Chief Betasprayer — there's no fire here. Always ask permission before giving beta to a person you don't know. A lot of people appreciate the help while they're on the wall, but there are also others who prefer to figure things out themselves. If you see someone struggling on a problem that you have dialed, ask them if they're looking for some advice on it before giving them the blow by blow of the entire thing.
10. If You See Something, Say Something!
Our staff here at Summit are truly very awesome, eagle-eyed safety machines. But they cannot be everywhere at once. (Not yet — the future of employment at Summit will probably be robots.) Anyways, if you see anything unsafe during your time at any of our gyms, please speak up and tell one of our staff. Even if it is a false alarm, we would prefer to know about any, and all dangerous situations before they can become a real issue. Even when it comes to small things, too, — like spinning holds and missing tape — if you alert one of our staff members, we can fix the concern so the next person to climb that route is not inconvenienced.
+ Bonus Yoga Tips
1. Be On Time!
Our yoga classes are at the same time every week, so there should be no confusion about their start times. When you enter a yoga class late, it disrupts the class, and inconveniences the instructor as they must make sure you are checked-in to the class. If it's a full class, it's a lot harder to ask someone to move their mat over a couple inches to give you space if they're already in a pose. Sometimes things like traffic, and car trouble can't be avoided, so Summit tries its best to accommodate late-comers, but please make an effort to be at least five minutes early to any yoga class you attend.
2. Clean Up After Yourself
If you are using one of our provided mats, please be sure to wipe it off after each and every use, no matter how much you feel you may have sweat on it. We have provided yoga mat spray and paper towels for this purpose, so please take the minute or so after class to make your mat presentable for the next person to use. Our Manduka mats (the ones with the frog logo on the corner), do not get sprayed. They have their own antibacterial treatment, which our provided cleanser could damage if sprayed onto the mat.