I absolutely love asking climbers, especially new and indoor climbers questions. I do this for fun, to make them feel welcome at the climbing centre but also find out how they see climbing, what the extent of their climbing knowledge is as well as finding what climbing truly looks like and means to them.
Do new indoor climbing even care about the past?
I ask them all sorts of questions, I ask about them about their climbing session, their experiences, what they think of the others climbing or the feel of the centre. I also ask questions like “What do you think of this bouldering then, do you like it?” or “you’re looking strong, what grade are you climbing now?”, sometimes I throw in words or names of famous climbers or climbs. I ask these questions not out of snobbery or elitism or to try and trick them but out of pure interest to find out how these new climbers see the sport/lifestyle, if they are taking on the history and information that seasoned climbers have developed over time or are they taking the sport of climbing and developing something entirely new. Do they even care what came before them?
Working hard to make the every clients time at any indoor climbing centre or climbing coaching session the antitheses of elitism I was not shocked or agitated but almost joyful to hear that more often than not so many people climbing at Bloc had not heard of bouldering or grades or even Fontainebleau (arguably one of the homes of bouldering) yet they were all bouldering at that time. While has the chance to annoy the more experienced climber it means nothing to these new climbers and why should it? They are having a great time climbing indoors and getting fit with their and surely that is all that matters.
Developing new indoor climbing history
Grades, famous climbers, films that changed and helped develop the whole sport (such as Dosage 1) along with knowledge of local hard routes are lost even on not only the freshest of climber but even the more experienced indoor climbers of 4 or 5 year. I see this though and I love it, it is breath of fresh air in a sports that sometime gets so bogged down in history, grade arguments and technical or fashionable styles of climbing (for example not putting your knees on holds) and other intricacies that do nothing for the pure enjoyment of the activity.
I will go even further and say that I believe half of the time these new climbers know they are climbing as I know it to be, but it’s of no interest to them, their version of climbing is by no means related to what I know or the larger climbing community sees as climbing. They know they are going down to the climbing centre, their are climbing up and down, trying hard, falling off, failing, meeting old friends and making new ones and they could not be happier doing so.
These new climbers are not standing on past climbers shoulders and the majority are not sat at home watching old an new climbing DVDs or youtube videos of hard bouldering problems, most have never heard of UKC, they are developing their own sport and it’s with their own style.
The split of climbing
Climbing is becoming split, but not just outdoor climbing and indoors. It is so much more varied than that, we have people from all walks of life with a huge array of different needs and they are taking the sport of climbing and making it their own.
Either way and whichever direction it takes I am psyched to be a part of it and equally excited to see how this sport develops over the next 10 years.