Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Illuminating the Woman’s Rock Climber Perspective

Posted on October 22, 2016 in Sports
By USM Free Press

By Katie L. Malia, Free Press staff

First off, there is indoor rock climbing and there is outdoor rock climbing, and this will focus on indoor rock climbing. One element that makes a rock gym different from other gyms is the mental aspect.  It’s not just a workout, it’s a puzzle you have to figure out.  If you were to venture into a rock gym, either Evo in Portland or Salt Pump in Scarborough then you would have quite an experience.

At first the smell of sweat and chalk will greet you, then a check-in desk and an employee behind it.  The employee will probably have a warm and welcoming smile on their face. If you had never climbed before, they will probably give you a tour and help you rent any gear you will need for your climbing session, such as  shoes and/or a harness.  On all of the walls in the gym, you will find routes and these routes are graded using a system.  The system is now called The Yosemite Decimal Rating System.  The YDRS breaks climbing down into classes and grades. Class 5 is technically where rock climbing begins. Climbs are rated by the hardest move on the route.

It is a versatile, fun and challenging sport.  It’s a community sport.  Other climbers will cheer you on or help you laugh at yourself or tell you that you’ll get it next time.  Everyone is supportive of one another.  Some routes have different styles than others and will be easier for you to get than others.  It is an empowering place. It’s just between you and the wall, no one else.

It’s also a sport where women are on a level playing field with men. Some would say women’s lower centers of gravity make them better rock climbers than men.  It is definitely a hardcore sport regardless and can be intimidating, as everyone at the rock gym seems miraculously strong and graceful on the wall.  As a beginner, going with a friend helps ease nervousness, even as a female.  Eventually though you realize as a women it’s awesome and okay to be strong.

There is no greater feeling than when you’re on the rock wall and you’re exhausted, sweaty and you have hair frizzies in your face but your belay partner yells at you, “You’re so close, you’re almost there,” so you breathe in and out, try to shake out your arms out and only two holds (what the routes are made out of) stand between you and the top of the wall.

So you go on because they’re yelling at you, you breath in and push, you got it. Then you do it again, breathe in and push. So close, they yell at you once more, “C’mon you got this!” So you reach one last time from energy you didn’t know you had and you push and open your hand and grab with your fingers the top!  Then you breathe and you get to take a break, swelling with pride, feeling exhausted and invincible.

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