Monday, August 5, 2013

A Short Guide to Climbing Breeds


By Tina Manner

Climbing is a strange and unique world, filled with a variety of peculiar species of climbers. During my climbing ventures to study climbing and climbers throughout the American landscape, I stumbled upon a small, but transit climbing gym right here in our very own backyard. It was in this gym that I discovered a new abundance of different climbing breeds and began to document their wild and eccentric behaviors.


Now, I should probably clarify that climbing takes a special breed of masochistic maniacs. All willing to endure pain and suffering (as well as some fun) and therefore the stylistics in the different amount of climbers willing to do this should not be that surprising. However, how many times have you really sat down and recognized truly how many different climbers there are?


I am here now, writing this, not to point out one type, but all different types of climbers and the differences each has. This is a parody, not to be taken seriously, but rather humorously, in recognizing that all of us “types” of climbers have something interesting, unique, sometimes flawed, and of course, funny to be talked about. These are ideas I think each of us has thought but never really discussed.

So, the first breed of climbers that most of us come in contact with daily is “Le Noob”. Le Noob is... well, of course the new guy, overly excited, extremely ambitious and never failing to be seen campusing (or at least trying) something at some point. Le Noobs are great to have at the gym because they remind us that climbing is exciting, that its fun and a cool new thing that we sometimes take for granted. Le Noobs can often be seen in over-sized shoes, bouldering in harnesses that droop slightly below their hips and often seem impressed by nearly any other climber who has basic knowledge of climbing.


Now, opposite from Le Noob is, “The Flasher”. The Flasher ranges from moderate to extremely strong climbers and is often seen “flashing” or “crushing” the sickest routes, or sadly enough sometimes the route you were so ambitiously working. The Flasher is inspiring, strong and can be helpful in that you not only get beta sprayed but also now realize that the impossible route is in fact quite easy, or so it seemed. The Flasher sometimes seemingly comes out of nowhere, like a masked wizard that soars mystically up your route with ease. Other times the flasher is merely standing in a crowd of climbers, idly watching and announcing his “flash” of this route or that.


Falling somewhere between The Flasher and Le Noob is a quite delicate styled climber, this particular one can be referred to as “The Whiner-imer”. Now, I personally have been guilty of this role, as I am sure most of us have. The distinct trait of a Whiner-imer is their ability to shoot down nearly all routes that weren’t immediately “sent”. Some common Whiner-imer lingo might sound something like, “It’s just too big a move” or “It’s not really my style”, “what was this setter thinking?”, and the most common “That route just sucks.” Though these might seem a little pessimistic, there are very positive things this climber brings. This climber is unique and admirable in that no matter how long they have worked something, they continue to be in here day after day pushing hard and always encouraging others.

Now on to a gym classic rivalry; “Ropers vs Boulderers”. These two clashing groups have been debating and arguing for decades now which style is “better” than the other. There seems to be a barrier that voids one style from merging into another, an impenetrable wall you might say. Although you may have seen some climbers delving into both, almost all will have one preference over the other. Boulderers argue for their stronger sequences and stronger climbers, whereas Ropers endurance can out climb any boulderer hands down. Obviously there are exceptions always.


Alright, on to a favorite (though that may be a biased thought) breed of climbers, whose sense of fashion and perfect hair never seems to undermine their ability to crank out hard routes; this group I refer to as “The Ladies”. This group of climber can always be seen in perfectly fitting tights and brightly colored workout shirts. Their hair is usually done up nice, though I can bet they would argue they look “just awful”, and yet, they can still out climb most other climbers. They are always smiling, always encouraging and never failing to make others smile. Ladies, you know who you are

Dangerous and slightly irritating, “The Couch Climber”, whose presence at the gym has been nil for as long as you can remember, will come in and simply destroy every route you have so longingly been working. Poor diet, party lifestyle or comfy couch, none of these ever seem to diminish this climber’s ability to just absolutely crush when they decide to finally come in. Though this climber tends to drive a regular scheduled climber absolutely nuts, they are always a blast to be around. Providing a great atmosphere and a killer climbing session, this m.i.a. climber is one to look out for.

Any climber who has been in a gym has most certainly come across this next climber. All knowing and slightly grumpy, “The Veterans” are the sole reason we climbers are here today. Veterans of course defined climbing, setting the standards and providing us with lessons like “using dynamic ropes” or “no sling harnesses”, we have them to thank for all our comfortable gear and conveniently set routes. However, these Veterans at a gym can come off bitter, angry and almost always have sneered away an employee for having “tried to correct their old style of belaying.” Veterans, hats off to you for all the hard work you put in for us, climb on!

Into a more determined breed of climber, “The Grade Chaser,” can be very similar to that of The Flasher, but instead of focusing solely on the flash, is more concerned with getting that “hard *** route with the super high grade.” These types of climbers almost always have a tick list, one that most certainly has a crag and all the sickest most difficult routes there on it. The Grade Chaser spends time in the gym making up problems (since they have most likely flashed everything else) trying to train for their next trip. They pretty much know all of the best routes at a crag and can be extremely helpful and informing if you are planning a climbing trip yourself. The Grade Chasers are funny because they generally have a denial of their... syndrome.

Following up is the know it alls of climbing, “Gear Junkies.” Gear Junkies eat, breathe, sleep and live climbing and climbing gear. If you have a question regarding anything climbing gear, chances are they not only know it, but will own it, have an opinion about it and give you every answer to every possible question you might have had about it. You might not always see a Gear Junkie climbing or they might not be the strongest climber out there, and sometimes they can come off condescending or pretentious, they are however, not to be over looked or dismissed. Gear Junkies are a necessity; they are the walking encyclopedia for all that is climbing.

I know I have left out an absurd amount of types of climbers, this is obviously due to the fact that I can only write so much per article (and now I get to write another column). But please do not feel left out, I promise I will find you and discuss you as well. Once again I hope you understand that this article is meant to highlight the importance of each climber, what they have to bring and why we are all funny to laugh at. I myself am guilty of several of these styles and look forward to hearing from everyone what style climber they are! Remember that climbing is fun, enjoy yourself, laugh and have a good time.

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2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing on this awesome tips with us for sure your idea is working best for me.

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  2. oh tina, you are so multitalented...I think the next thing in the climbing life, instead of chasing grades is to chase that next "climbing breed". would be nice to be a "know-it-all" sometime in the long and far fetched future haha...thanks for this one

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