We’ve talked about quite a few thoughts now and I’ve been trying to save community until right at the end. You see there are a lot of important parts of climbing but to me none of them are as important as community. It took me a long time to find climbing as a sport, I was about 25 at the time and, without going in to too much detail, I was feeling a little lost and lacked direction. I tried several hobbies and got into climbing by pure chance. Within a couple sessions I felt like I was in the right place. Staff at the local gym were super friendly, and other climbers had already invited me outdoors with them. It seemed crazy to find such like-minded individuals so quickly, and even stranger was how quickly we became close friends. So what makes our climbing community so important?
Fundamentally climbing is about trust. Each time you get on the end of a rope you’re putting life in the hands of your climbing partner. We often don’t think of it that way and it’s pretty easy to forget how much trust you’re putting in that person. On top of that if you’re into outdoor climbing it won’t be long before you spend a significant amount of time with your partner, and no doubt go camping with them, or on long trips. This gives us a glimpse into what it’s like to live with them, and helps form your “tribe”.
I’ve often found that most climbers don’t judge you by how hard you climb, they don’t judge you for where you’re from or for what your other hobbies/work are. They only care that you love climbing. If you’re new to climbing or self conscious about how “strong” you are then don’t worry. Just show you care about the climbs. Encouraging other climbers while they work on a route, discussing beta and asking about the moves of other climbs are the keys to conversation and social interaction when you go to a climbing gym. This makes the sport so much more inclusive. It makes it accessible to anyone because all of a sudden you have a very easy guide to starting a conversation and joining in with a group.
The best communities are fostered by the climbing industry. Gyms run by climbers, run by people who care about the local crags and being a part of the climbing community as a whole, not just as a business. There’s a strong mindset of indoor vs outdoor climbing but in reality it’s just two sides to the same coin. Indoor climbing should be unique, it should involve moves, holds and routes which would be near impossible to find outdoors. It should be a safe environment to practice new techniques, and train your strengths and weaknesses. Outdoors should be an inspiration to all climbers, it’s where climbing was born and should be important to all climbers. It’s where you can have a real adventure and discover how capable, confident and strong you really are. Climbing gyms and companies should be a part of both worlds not just one or the other.
Community is important to all of us at Flow. We want to be more than just another climbing company, we want to be a climbing community.