Tag Archives: Climbing Gym

Climbing in a Pandemic – This is a new world, but we’re all learning to live in it.

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Sunday, 09-Aug-2020

 

 

I haven’t been to a climbing gym in months.  Since COVID really hit, at least… and probably before that, though I can’t quite remember.  They’ve been open for a while, actually… but I’d cancelled my membership about a month ago, and hadn’t really planned on restarting it anytime soon.

 

Then a study came out, suggesting that climbing chalk can deactivate the COVID virus nearly immediately upon contact (Ed Note: We’ve posted a link to the article is at the bottom of the post, enjoy!).  I also have a few friends who’ve started climbing again, who let me know what sorts of precautions the gym’s been taking, and how crowded (or not crowded, in fact) the gym has been recently.

I… wasn’t fully convinced.  But I kept tumbling it around in my head… questioning whether I’m really being safe, or if I’m being paranoid.

That’s the name of the game these days, isn’t it?

How much protection should we give ourselves?  What’s safe, and what’s an unnecessary risk?

What’s a sore throat, and what’s COVID?  Is the sneeze because I just split pepper, or inhaled a face full of dust?  Or am I contagious, and risking my and everyone else’s health?

 

We simply don’t know, so we weigh the options and do our best.  Like we always do.  We move forward.

 

I finally moved forward to the gym.  I don’t regret it.

 

Nothing is safe, but climbing at the gym was… acceptably unsafe.  I don’t think there was really any heightened risk outside of the normal “I’m climbing fifty feet into the air, protected by a half-inch thick rope”, and I’m confident that there wasn’t any pandemic-related risk greater than going to the grocery store, or picking up tacos at the local bodega.

Everyone had a mask, and I felt good.

That being said…

Man am I weak.  I finished a few routes, yeah, but… dang, man.  I need to climb more!

 

 

Link to article: https://www.abcwalls.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Corona-Virus-and-Chalk-Press-release.pdf

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Rock Climbing in Aberdeen

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Rock Climbing in Aberdeen

Friday, 30-Dec-2017

After the long train ride back to Aberdeen from Edinburgh, we were feeling a little bit cramped and listless… which is clearly cured by a trip to go rock climbing!

Not outside though. It’s cold, yo. Also; expensive to ship all our climbing gear with us. So instead, we’d only brought shoes and harnesses. Which are, of course, perfect for climbing in the gym…

And Aberdeen even has a climbing gym! What a coincidence! Clearly, Sarah and I couldn’t have planned all of this out ahead of time. Clearly not. Nope.

This unplanned trip entailed Sarah and I both getting registered as members for the day, then taking written tests about how to belay, etc…, and then taking a secondary test proving that we wouldn’t let Henry or Leah kill themselves. Because Henry and Leah came with us! Greta too, even! Though Greta didn’t climb; she just watched from the coffee shop, and did some remote work. Still though; good times.

Sarah and I went over the basics, then got Henry and Leah up on the walls; we all played it pretty safe for the beginning, but by the end we were all pushing grades as hard as we could; Henry and Leah both did 9+s, and Sarah and I were powering away with the best of them.

 

I even did a 5.12- (per their grading system), though I’m still uncertain of that grade… if they’re on the French system, it was a 5.12-… But we were in Scotland, so one would expect them to use the British grading system. But under the British system, I did a 5.14+. Which I, somehow, find slightly unlikely. Since… you know… that’s where sponsored athletes climb. But hey. Maybe I am just that good. Yo.

The gym itself was amazing; good walls, pleasant staff, tons of space for everyone, and it even had extra facilities like a skate park, pool, outdoor walls, and a weight room. Seriously. Why don’t we have this gym in the States? Weak.

As an introduction to Scottish climbing, it was amazing. Definitely what we’d hoped for, when we totally weren’t planning this before going to Scotland. Exactly.

Climbing in Christchurch – Roxx and the Rec Center at UC

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Nov 23rd and 24th

New Zealand has some amazing outdoor climbing, but unfortunately sometimes you don’t have the time to drive out to it. Or it could be raining… and when New Zealand rains, it makes sure that you are aware of the rain; what people in Mass refer to as “rain” New Zealanders call “light drizzle”, and “New Zealand rain” is better known as “having a fire-hose turned on you”. Seriously, its nuts. But when it is raining or you’re feeling too lazy to drive a few hours, there are always climbing gyms.

This is starting to become a theme I’m noticing… reviews of rock climbing gyms. But honestly, a climbing gym can be a really great place or a really depressing place, and finding the right gym can be almost as relieving as coming home after a long business trip abroad. In a good gym the routes are challenging but fair, the people are friendly but not creepy, and the atmosphere is laid back yet energizing. I’ve been to gyms that feel more like the weight room of a frat house or a center for road rage. But I’ve also been to gyms where everyone chats and helps push each other to greater feats of awesome, yet never insults or demeans people. A good gym can be a climbers second home… and oftentimes it really is (after the real rock walls, or course).

So when Mike came up on my third day in New Zealand and asked if I wanted to hit the climbing gym with him that night, I jumped on it. We headed to a place called “The Roxx”, which Mike told me was his favorite gym, and when we got there… dang but I was blown away. They had your normal bouldering cave and “fake-rock” walls, but they also had fully textured rock faces with features and cracks galore. In case you’ve never been to a climbing gym; most gyms have flat angled walls with climbing holds screwed onto the walls. Some (very few) gyms have “features” on their walls which mimic real outdoor rock by giving you small cracks and divots to hold on to while you’re climbing. The downside to using features is that its much harder to set up initially, and they can’t be changed around to make new routes… But in my opinion their definitely key, since it gives a much more accurate representation of climbing outside.

Roxx had entire walls made up of these features, showing off deep cracks, wide splits, and beautiful ledges that were crafted out of plaster-covered plywood and sculpted from rock-paste. Seriously, this gym had the best walls and features out of any indoor climbing I’ve ever been to, and I loved every minute of climbing up them. The “features only” climbs were mostly hard (rated 19+ on the New Zealand scale, so mostly 5.10b+), so I had a good tough time on the few that I could actually finish; and I left with more than a few new projects.

 

Unique note: The University of Canterbury doesn’t have an “Outdoorsing club” like Northeastern does. Instead, they have many smaller clubs that cater to the specific activities that make up outdoors adventures, such as a Tramping (hiking) club, a climbing club, a Kayaking club, etc… Kinda a bad idea in my opinion, since it makes it harder to negotiate with the university and to organize huge fun trips, but it seems to work well enough for UC, so good deal.

The next evening Mike and I decided that being tired and sore from one night of climbing wasn’t nearly enough, and headed to the University of Canterbury Rec center to check out the rock wall there. I was able to get in for free since the climbing club was having its weekly meeting and so we headed in, strapped on the shoes, and started trying out problems with the few climbers from the club who had come out. The vibe that we all had going on was actually something I haven’t run into in a while, and it was really refreshing to have a whole group of boulderers climbing and helping each other out with the harder moves.

Instead of just working routes though, I had a really fun time setting as well. Since the wall was rather small there weren’t many truly set routes, and there were even fewer routes that were taped – most of the actual “routes” were found by word-of-mouth or made up on the spot. After working a particularly reachy problem with some of the burlier guys I decided that I wanted one of my personal favorite bouldering routes and started picking out holds to build up an over-hanging and dynamic jug-fest. Everyone started coming over a trying it once I set it up though, and soon enough we had all eight of us taking turns trying to make the final few moves up to the top. It was really fun, and a really nice little ego boost to have everyone loving the route that I put up.

We climbed strong for a while, but soon enough we hit the 10:00 mark when the rec center started closing down. We packed up our gear, grabbed some extra rope and draws from the climbing clubs gear locker (talk about a blast of memory…) and jumped in the car to head home. A good day of climbing, and I’m really looking forward to hunting down the UC Climbing Club again soon.