Are modern climbing gyms making climbers lazy? Not too long ago being a climber you’ll need to have a few additional skills. Apart from climbing skills, you need to have knowledge of meteorology, logistic planning and entry-level survivor skills.
To spend a day climbing, climbers will need to do a fair bit of logistical planning, such as the length of rope and the number of quickdraws to pack. As well as estimate the amount of food and water to bring to the crag. Climbers will also need to be a quasi Meteorologist and forecast the weather on climbing days, and the ability to look at wind direction to determine if the rain is just a passing shower or a f**k you we are going to die here kind of storm.
Modern climbing gyms and modern climbers
Climbing gyms have changed so much in the last decade. I’ll have to be absolutely honest I kinda like modern climbing gyms. Packing only a harness and a pair of climbing shoes and you are ready to go. Not having to worry about bad weather on climbing days is great, who wouldn’t like that. Need a quick bite? Why not, climbing gyms have in house cafes with delicious baguettes and cappuccinos. Need to focus on finger strength training here you go, a full range of campus rungs and hangboards. How about a yoga session taught by a hot yoga instructor to get you all bendy and flexible. Who the hell will say no to any of that?
Gym ONLY climbers are not rock climber
If you love climbing in the gym and that is all you want to do. And you have no intention to ever climb outdoor then yes you are a gym only climber. Gym only climbers don’t exist you say. Oh ya, they do. I have encountered a few. Gym climbing has become such a trend that it’s considered a physical exercise for people to get fit and stay in shape. Going outdoor climbing and risk injury due to accidents, that’s for risk-takers like rock climbers.
One thing about gym climbers is they are f**king strong. Spending 2 or 3 intensive hours in the climbing gym working on hard moves and campus rungs you will definitely get strong. Compare to outdoor climbers having to waste time packing gear, walking to the crag and hiding from the rain. In fact, a day of outdoor climbing may not result in much climbing at all.
Climbing gyms safety rules is not making climbing safe
I can’t say for everyone, but I hate rules. Although, I am happy to follow some safety rules (reasonable ones only). I guess that is the reason why I prefer climbing outdoor or climbing gyms that have minimum rules if they still exist. Climbing gyms have rules that require belayer to use only ABDs for belay, tie-in knot can only be the figure of 8 knot, no skipping of quickdraws, no practice of lead falls, too much slack when belaying is not allowed even if the climber wants it. Sometimes, climbing in a gym feels like I’m a criminal surrounded by undercover cops (gym staff) waiting for me to make a mistake so they can take me down.
It used to be important for climbers to have a few climbing buddies they trust in order to get a belay. Now innovation in belaying equipment has made climbing so safe that belayers don’t really need to belay safely or even at all. Fool proved belay systems are set up that requires minimum or no belayer involvement. Auto top rope belay and even auto lead belay systems are available in the market.
Yes, these rules and equipment are making climbing in the gym safe. But it’s taking away our ability to judge and manage risk and also making us into lousy belayers (oh ya and balls less lead climbers).
Gym climbing is just for climbing
When it comes to climbing in modern climbing gyms. It is simply just for climbing, only climbing. Ropework… not needed because you only need to learn one knot. Belaying… nope because you are not verified by the gym staff for belaying so please use the auto-belay. Well, I guess life’s good, there had never been a better time to be a climber. Who wants to do all the work to learn and practice other climbing-related skills by going outdoor when all you want is to climb. Just go to a modern climbing gym.
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I do think that climbing, in general, is a social sport and at times people will get bored with just…climbing. Have seen many “gym climbers” taking up belaying skills and exploring the outdoors. I generally prefer just indoor climbing, you get almost the same humidity and heat minus the mozzies!