My boyfriend and I (he climbs as well) were talking about how great it is that sport climbing made the shortlist for Tokyo 2020. Competition climbing has picked up a lot of speed in recent years with new gyms opening up everyday, but its presence is still under the radar. When I tell people that I climb, I have to explain that no, it’s not a race to the top of the wall and no I’m not hiking Mt. Everest. Though it’s slightly frustrating to rarely have anyone understand what I do, I totally understand. Competition climbing and climbing in general is not well known or understood.
However, some traditional climbers (and even modern) climbers want to keep it that way. Their argument is that climbing will become too mainstream and take away from the culture that has been preserved in climbing for so many years. This culture consists of climbing for the pure enjoyment of climbing (I highly recommend watching “Valley Uprising” for entertainment and history purposes). Also, the world of climbing is a small community even among competition climbers who buckle down and send when competing but offer up beta when given the chance. Mainstreaming threatens the small, helpful, community that is so unique to climbing.
I fully understand the fear of change, especially with something you love, but change can bring on some good. I think the main fear here is that the new generation of climbers will be gym monkeys and protein junkies who strive only to win, but lose sight of the personal, gratifying feeling of sending a climb. Though I hate to see this as much as anyone else, it brings me joy knowing that climbing will continue to thrive for generations to come. My friends won’t change once the sport inevitably explodes, thereby maintaining the small community feel for me for at least another generation.
Popularizing the sport will also make it easier for my friends and relatives to understand what I do, but I don’t think that argument would hold up in a debate. I have faith that climbing’s culture will always be there. It brings unexplainable things out of people, like it did myself. With efforts from current and past climbers, the climbing community no matter how large, will remain as strong as it always has been. Bring on the Olympics.
climb on xx