Climbers are usually pretty good about sharing and taking care of equipment, or offering a place to sit by the fire, but I’ve noticed some things at the climbing gym that I think need to be pointed out to the newcomers on the scene, especially when it’s busy. Here are a few things that you might consider if you’re new (or even if you’re not):
- Don’t take up the entire gym with your stuff. There are many other people at the gym and many other people who need a spot to put their stuff, too. If the gym has cubbies, limit your stuff to one or two cubbies, not one for your keys and one for your phone and one for your shoes and one for your socks, etc. Space is limited and everybody wants to get their stuff taken care of so they can go climb. Help with the storage issue!
- Supervise your kids. Again, there are many other people at the gym. Your kids need to be supervised and not be running around, screaming and hollering like a bunch of wild animals and laying around on the mats. Why not? Because it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous for the rest of us and it’s dangerous for them. For example, if your kid is laying on the mat right below someone who is bouldering and that person falls off onto your kid, both of them could get hurt. If your kid is screaming, people can’t hear important commands from their partners on the wall and it could cause a climbing accident. It’s distracting. If your kid is running around, not paying attention to what’s going on around them, they could cause an accident. That, and the fact that, if you’re not watching your kid, that means we all have to watch your kid, and that’s not what the rest of us are there for. We’re there to climb, not to watch your kid. Don’t just hook your kid up to an auto belay for a half an hour or more to “supervise” them, either. That’s not fair to the rest of us who would like to use the auto belay to climb some routes, too. By the way, that’s not supervision, either. The gym is not there to be your babysitter. Supervise your kids. Yourself.
- Don’t monopolize a route or problem. Give someone else a turn. If it’s busy, give the route or problem a go, and then give someone else a turn. Don’t sit there on a route for a half an hour or more just hanging from the rope or hogging that section of the bouldering wall. The rest of us are there to climb, too. You are one of many. Don’t worry – we’ll give you another turn if you give us our turn. If everybody takes turns, your turn will come around just as often as it does for the rest of us and everybody can have a good time. Try some different routes and problems in the meantime, even. Climbers are pretty good about sharing. Be one of us!
- Don’t wear your climbing shoes into the bathroom. That’s gross. Need I say more?
- Don’t endanger yourself or others by acting like a fool. That stuff doesn’t belong in a busy climbing gym. Behave yourself and conduct yourself in an adult manner or leave. Nobody’s interested in your horseplay, your foul mouth, or your showing off. If you’re good, let it be enough that you know that for yourself. The rest of us will see it if you’re not acting like a fool. If you’re acting like a fool, all we’re seeing is someone we can’t wait to see walk out the door.
- Don’t eat or drink on the mats. If you spill on the mats, it’s going to make a mess and nobody wants to roll around in whatever you spilled. Accidents happen, but make sure they happen off the mats and out of the way of climbers.
- If you make a mess, clean it up. If you spill chalk, for example, either clean it up yourself or ask a staff member to help you clean it up. Don’t just leave it. Pick up energy bar wrappers and empty bottles and cups and throw them away. Nobody wants to sit in or be around your trash. It’s the same outdoors – especially outdoors!!! Do NOT litter!!! Police your area for trash and pick it up if you see it. Get in the habit of doing it in the gym, and it won’t be a problem outdoors.
- Don’t steal chalk from other climbers’ chalk bags when they’re not looking. It’s stealing. That’s what it is, plain and simple, and it makes people mad. Get your own chalk or ask first. Chalk is expensive, so invest in some yourself and don’t mooch off of others. If you need help choosing some, ask someone. They’ll be glad to help in most cases.
- Be courteous in general. If you’re courteous to others, others will be courteous to you. It’s a mutual thing. We all want to get our climb on and that’s something we can all help each other with.
If you follow these simple guidelines and use the common sense that I hope you have somewhere in your brain, everybody’s going to have an easier and a better time at the climbing gym, including you! We all want things to go smoothly. Help that happen.