Regardless of Season, Climbing Etiquette is Always in Style
Winter is coming. Well, that’s what a popular TV series would have you believe, the calendar too! But some cold weather has finally made it to the region of St. Louis and Bloomington, IL and our Upper Limits Rock Climbing Gyms.
As it arrives, the curtains fall on another season of outdoor rock climbing in cold climates – like the ones we have here in the Midwest. Which then means an influx of additional members at the gym, both old and new alike (many of our newest members will be found at our brand-new Upper Limits Rock Climbing Gym – Chesterfield).
Climbing etiquette should be something that everyone takes note of all year long, but now is especially the time during the cold winter months when more people come to the perfect climbing conditions found at our indoor climbing gyms, for those who want to stay sharp for next season at some of the best fitness centers in St, Louis, now including our incredible new location in Chesterfield valley, and brand new climbers who see this as their opportunity to learn the sport before the warmer weather hits next Spring. Regardless of your level of experience, you should take note of the 7 Deadly Sins of Gym Climbing.
Too Much Unsolicited Advice
We should address your free advice right up front. If we’re not asking you to provide it, we probably don’t want it – at least while we are on the wall. A major point of climbing for many is experiencing an often-transcendent state of meditative focus, where the challenges and the stress of life disappear for a while, as climbers have the opportunity to just think completely about solving the next problem.
So we have talked on numerous occasions about how rock climbing is a workout for the brain as much as it is a unique, challenging physical workout, that is tailored to meet the needs of rock climbers of any skill level and experience. This one-of-a-kind physical workout paired with the mental component and effort are what helps many members de-stress after a long day or week and keeps them coming back – thus making their fitness goals more attainable. But that’s no easy task if someone is yelling instruction at them, taking them out of their flow.
A bit of good guidance is one thing, and people new to the sport will find many more experienced climbers that have helpful advice for those just getting started, and they may very well ask for your tips and advice especially when getting started. But there’s a fine line between good guidance and obnoxious over-coaching, and you should save the tips for after the climb, after that individual has had the opportunity on their own to solve the next problem.
Shouting & Grunting
A few climbers out there seem to think some well-placed grunts or “AAAHHHH!” will make their 5.4 look like a 5.9, but this can become very distracting and annoying to your fellow gym goers if done during every move. While grunts in an indoor gym can be necessary at times – they are not appropriate all the time. Some members may not even be aware they are doing this, so as you scale the walls during your next visit to the gym, be cognizant of this while climbing to see if you are unknowingly doing the same. And please also be aware when there are children nearby; those little ears are absorbing everything you say to other climbers!
Ditching Your Shirt
This isn’t as common at Upper Limits Rock Climbing Gyms, but it does happen, and as with all items here this is meant to be educational for those brand new to our St. Louis fitness centers, and this unique sport in general. Your previous experiences in other settings may be different depending on venue, and this is more likely in certain workout settings.
So this is reminder of being a considerate and conscientious climber at all times, and is something that most long-term members should know well, but is worth repeating. When you are climbing outside with your group, under the sun in the crag, that is the time to get your daily dose of Vitamin D if you wish. But things are different when you head indoors.
First off, it has the potential to make certain members a bit uncomfortable, certainly not something we want to happen at Upper Limits! Having sweat raining down on other members from your entire upper body, or potentially discouraging others to give the route a try because the wall is coated with your sweat are situations we’d like to avoid at our St. Louis gyms.
Bragging Too Much
If keeping your shirt on is the first step to being a conscientious climber, refraining from a barrage of bragging about your last climb is the next. There is a fine line between telling your fellow gym goers that your recent climbing trip was great, and the setting in that National Park was gorgeous vs. telling everyone that your last trip was one of the most fantastic and amazing climbs ever made can get old quickly to others.
Everyone thinks their last climb is like their baby: amazing, unique in every way, and the source of immense pride. And this sense of accomplishment is absolutely a goal for most rock climbers.
But like your children, while pride in your achievement is totally understandable, know that boasting about your recent climb to everyone within earshot can become obnoxious fast.
Monopolizing the Wall
Part of the psychology of climbing is entering that zone where nothing else exists but you and the wall. But in the indoor setting, it isn’t just you and the wall. It’s for everyone else too that pays each month to be a member, and took time out of their day to be here at Upper Limits just like you did.
If you need to, take a literal step back and think through a problem before you hit the wall, and let someone else give the route a try until then. Who knows, you just might learn something in the process, the key to becoming a better climber.
Being Distracted while Belaying
Upper Limits rock climbing gyms, at each of our 4 locations, are typically buzzing with activity and genuinely great people (and of course incredibly fit ones, too!). But remember that while belaying, you have an incredibly important job to do, so now is not the time to start chatting or being distracted by other climbers. Don’t get complacent here, or ever lose sight of the fact someone else is counting on you 100% to keep them safe; the alternative is a potential visit to the emergency room. Bottom line: this isn’t the time to watch other climbers or make new friends. Upper Limits is filled with lots of great and friendly people, just make sure you save the chatting for after the climb is safely completed. And of course, these rules are just as important when someone else is belaying. Don’t be the distraction yourself.
Chalk is one unique component of climbing, were everyone has their own philosophy and preference. It’s an extremely personal choice; some will use only a fine line, others like it chunky, while everyone else is somewhere in the middle. However, chalk needs to be used responsibly. Remind yourself first it’s for your hands, not the wall itself. There’s no need to coat the holds, sending a cloud of your powder mixed with hand-sweat cascading down on those below you!
You also don’t want be the guy or gal who always needs to borrow from someone else. You can get a basic climbing chalk bag with belt from prAna on sale for just $10, and though other deals can be found online on regular occasions, and this bag is regularly just $20. If you look at what you’ve invested in your membership here at Upper Limits, bought a harness, shoes, and had transportation to the gym, you can surely invest in an inexpensive bag!
Upper Limits is a rock climbing gym for people of all ages and skill levels, especially our new state-of-the-art gym in Chesterfield, located at 17375 Edison Avenue, Chesterfield 63005. Our new location features tons of varied bouldering and rope climbing space, including a below grade inverted climbing section and a large, separate area dedicated just for children, our Wacky Walls section, which has lots of fun themes for kids to climb like dinosaur bones and a giant beanstalk made just with them in mind.
And if you are seeking a one-of-a-kind children’s party location in St. Louis or other youth group party location, look no further! Upper Limits is also the most unique place to host other parties, groups and events, such as your upcoming corporate teambuilding event. Upper Limits is designed to get everyone involved, not just the “sporty” kids, and the same holds true for every other group that we host. Please contact us right away because spots fill quickly! Reservations are recommended at least 2 weeks in advance. Call (314) 991-2516 to check for availability today.
Or if you are looking for the unique challenge offered by rock climbing as your next workout of choice, come take a tour of the gym you would probably attend most often, and afterwards you can start off with our introductory St. Louis rock climbing classes to learn the ropes (literally, and figuratively!).
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Chris Schmick, Owner | Upper Limits Rock Climbing Gyms