Thank God They Invented It So We Now Don't Have To: the briefest of histories on the death-defying origins of today's commonly-used climbing gear

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.

Chalk that rocks! The science behind our new chalk selection from Friction Labs

There are a lot of things we focus on while we climb: what shoes we're wearing, how comfortable our harness is, or how ripped our tank top may, or may not, make us look. (Spoiler alert: RIPPED.) But what about your chalk? Are you thinking about the performance of your chalk every time you clap it on your hands? I know I haven't in the past ... I have typically gone with whatever chalk is closest to free ... but all chalks are NOT created equal, and the newest chalk line we have added to our gear shops at Summit stands out miles above the rest. I'd say it's more than just chalk — but it's not. It's different because it IS just chalk; with none of the other nonsense fillers you see in other chalk blends. Basically, it's the gluten-free blend of the chalk world, and once you start, you ain't never going back. Probably because you can't digest gluten anymore, but whatever. I am no dietician.

The Little Things: Essential small necessities to always keep in your climbing bag

Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees,  the details in the big picture — or, the little, essential climbing items through our mounds and mounds of climbing gear. It's fairly easy to gear up for a climbing sesh at the gym — harness; check, shoes; check, chalkbag; double check cuz I got TWO to choose from — but there are quite a few items we usually forget to keep handy, that aren't absolutely essential until you, holy crap, need them. Here's the quick and dirty list of the small stuff that you would want to keep in your bag at all times, to bust out and show off your preparedness, you little boy scout, at those times when you really need them most.

Dude, Don't Be Rude: The Ten Commandments of Climbing at Summit

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.

Anyone who has visited Hueco Tanks knows the feeling of waiting in line to climb.

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.

None of this!

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

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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.