The Climbing Purist

I have always been intrigued by the purist climbers who are avidly anti- plastic. Recently, I invited a few people to crank on some plastic with me at a local indoor climbing gym while the weather was bad. I was surprised at how many people responded by saying things like, “no thanks, I really don’t like climbing in a gym,” or my favorite one, “everyone who climbs at the gym is a tool.” While there is some validity to this last statement – just watch the video at the base of this posting – I think there is something strange about the purist, who thinks that climbing is a state of being when you are outdoors and not something that is FUN to do wherever you are.

I do not have a problem with the climbing purist, just cannot seem to understand why you make such a big fuss about climbing in the gym. Is it because of the beefcake gym rat who grunts on every move and then after an hour of climbing heads over to the campus boards and does some 4×4’s until with his shirt off; the wanker who after you on-sighted a climb comes over and starts spraying beta and telling you how you did it wrong; or the couple who you meet at the gym saying that they have been climbing for two years, but when you ask them where, expecting a response about a few local crags, they give a list of the gyms in the area and then become surprised and intrigued when you tell them that you climb outdoors. Don’t be surprised when this couple asks you what trad means, they have no clue. If this is you, pathetic, but if you avoid the gyms because of these reasons, you too are pathetic.

For the majority of people who climb in big cities around the US, the gym is what perfect bomber rock is not, right  next door. If you do not want to climb with gym rats, there are always going to be experienced outdoors climbers at a gym to connect with. Not to mention, that the majority of cities in the US are not climbable year round and instead of sitting at home eating cheesy puffs and watching reruns of Miami Vice, the Gym provides a convenient place to train. The only logical reply I have heard about why not to climb at a gym is that gyms “inculcate bad habits.” The next time you go to the gym, see how many times you are  provoked to yell “don’t step on the rope,” or “stop discussing how your new gri gri 2 catches falls better than the old one with the dude on the mats while you are on belay.” Not to mention that gyms are full of climbers who lack technique but can campus the 5.9 you are struggling up and seem to grunt louder every time a woman walks in the door. However, if you are a purist, and still use these excuses as justification for not climbing indoors, I feel sorry for you and hope that you enjoy your cheesy puffs.

Video of The Stereotypical Gym Rat:

One Response to “The Climbing Purist”
  1. It’s interesting to see this point of view. I can’t say fore sure if I agree or not, but it is something I will think about now.

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