Words by Parker Cross

Images by Andy and Neena Earl

Climbing appeals to an extremely large demographic. There’s a little bit of something for everyone (even acrophobics). Climbing, for me, is an opportunity to connect with nature in a really special way. Somehow I feel super-connected to the outdoors when I’m climbing and mountaineering/splitboarding. It’s not a sport that you can do on your own though.

Yeah, I know there are those crazy free-soloists and gnarly alpinists who’ve made a lifestyle of being alone in the vertical world, but the average Parker needs a partner, and a climbing community for support. Whether it’s a spotter or belayer to keep you safe, a group of like-minded friends to give you moral support, or a couple of rippers sending 13’s that push you in your goals, you and I need some sort of community to underlay our climbing experiences.

On Memorial Day I had to chance to meet up with a bunch of climbing friends in American Fork Canyon, and although the social aspect of climbing isn’t a primary appeal, it was nice to walk around the corner of the Escape Buttress and see 9 of my friends welcoming me to the crag. It was a special feeling, and I appreciated it more than I expected to.

The feeling was once again reestablished last night when I went to the climbing gym. As I was waiting for my climbing partner to arrive, I was greeted by a handful of friends that I’d met through the Utah Climbing Club. Building and activating your climbing community is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the various disciplines of climbing.

Although climbing with a large group is not my preferred environment, I recognize and appreciate the value of friendship, and how climbing can be a vehicle for developing those friendships to last a lifetime, and my hope is that you can do the same.

Do you have an active climbing community where you live? Let’s hear your stories in the comments.

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5 Responses to “Community”
  1. Joe says:

    Too bad you guys missed out on bacon fest! 🙂

  2. alpinedon says:

    The other side of the coin is this: what if you have really bad social anxiety (as I do) and find it difficult to meet an adequate amount of people to climb with? Don’t get me wrong, I do have a fair amount of climbers to climb with, but it has never really been truly a social thing for me, and I always feel kind of jealous for the people who have these huge groups of climbing buddies. That is the difficulty of being a high-functioning autistic climber in a world of climbers who are not like you and tend not to understand. What’s up with that guy?

    • I feel you, alpinedon. It’s interesting because I only recently started climbing because I always thought that I didn’t have anyone to go with. It turns out that many of my friends have been into climbing for years, and I was the late-bloomer, so to speak.

      That being said, I kind of got into climbing in a somewhat backward way; I started mountaineering first, then started getting into technical rock climbing because I wanted to further my mountaineering skill set. A lot of people I know tend to do it the other way around. As a result, climbing has become very similar to mountaineering for me, more specifically it has become a way for me to connect with nature in a really special way. I’m pleased with the community that I have, but it is not, nor will it ever be, a primary factor in what I love about climbing.

      Keep crushing it. Climb on!

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