The ever-expanding circle of climbing friends
By Aimee Roseborrough
The people I surround myself with when I climb starts at my most inner circle: my husband. Then it expands to include my children and finally, my climbing friends. Above all, I value a conscientious climbing circle. People enjoy different levels of noise and involvement from others while they’re climbing, and if we keep that in mind, enjoying a day on the rock with others gets easier.
My Inner Circle – Just the two of us
I must admit that I enjoy climbing days when it’s my husband and me with the whole crag to ourselves. Even though I’m an extrovert and very social by nature, I love peace and quiet when I climb. My husband and I have been climbing together for 15 years and know each other so well that we no longer even shout encouragement while the other is climbing. We have both come to the realization that we climb better in silence. We’ve learned an important lesson that everyone climbs best with different levels of encouragement. Some people love the shouts of “You got it!” or “Venga!” or “Allez,” but some of us don’t. I suggest looking to a climber’s belayer to see what they are doing. If the belayer is silent, it’s probably because that’s what the climber likes. If they are vocal, then feel free to add in some encouragement when appropriate.
The Family Circle – Or Family Circus
As my circle widens to include my children, the dynamic changes. I enjoy the days I get to take my daughters out climbing and share with them my love of nature. We often make time for the older one to climb or for them both to swing on the rope. Of course, nothing beats post-climb snuggles from my 3-year-old! Often they are the only kids at the crag, so they play together, strengthening their sister bond as they build fairy houses and play make-believe. Sometimes, other climbers bring their kids. Since we’re in Spain, our girls get a chance to practice Spanish while playing. We also teach our kids the importance of staying quiet when someone is trying hard. I love having kids at the crag, but I appreciate it when parents teach them respect for others early on. This type of respect I’ve found lacking even in adults. For instance, I once came across a guy playing a banjo at the crag. Really?!? How could he possibly think that was appropriate or respectful of everyone else there. I’m glad that the friends I include in my climbing circle would never do that.
The Big Circle – The typical setting
When my climbing circle widens even further to include my climbing friends, I enjoy socializing in between climbs. Sometimes people can be loud with no regard to a climber trying hard nearby them. I find this situation difficult, as no one likes to be told to keep it down. I remember a time some ladies were having a rather loud conversation about “soy yogurt” as I was 10 feet above a bolt on redpoint. Somehow, they were oblivious to my screams and grunts of effort. I’m not asking for absolute silence, but just awareness from people of how they may affect others. When my friends show up, I enjoy seeing them and of course, being in Spain, practicing my Spanish. However, I find that the fewer people at the crag, the better for my easily distracted brain. I tend to avoid certain crags on weekends and holidays, but I think that if everyone had a little more awareness of how they may be affecting others, this wouldn’t be necessary.
Crag Etiquette – We all share the circle
I mentioned the importance of teaching your kids to keep their voices down, especially if someone is redpointing. That goes for adults, too. I also think it’s useful to pay attention to a climber’s belayer to get an idea of how much vocal encouragement their climber likes. Or just stay quiet. No one has ever complained about people being too quiet at a crag. You can always show your support for someone after they’re done climbing. But I have one last tip that I think helps everyone enjoy a day at the crag: If your dog is a barker, please, I beg you, leave it at home.