by Jamie Hagen
After recently moving to Park Slope from Bed-Stuy I knew the time was right to give rock climbing a try again. With Brooklyn Boulders in my backyard I now have the perfect opportunity to devote time to learning to climb and earlier this month I took the plunge and made my first visit to BKB!
More of a bookworm than a gym rat, over the next few months I’ll share my thoughts about climbing and some of the more social and behind the scenes aspects of Brooklyn Boulders. I’ll be blogging along with another new climber Kerrin Sheldon who was kind enough to take the photos in the post of some of my early attempts at bouldering.
I’m not totally new to climbing, but it’s been awhile. In high school I went rock climbing in Kentucky several times both indoors and out with my friend Carla and her mother, an avid climber. She first took us climbing at Rockquest gym to learn indoor rope climbing and later took us to the outdoor climbing hotspot Red River Gorge. The last time I heard from Carla she told me her mother had just completed climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro while on their trip to Africa so kudos to her!
Rock climbing can be a bit intimidating for the first time climber, especially at a large gym such as Brooklyn Boulders. And we’ve all heard the, “But I don’t have any upper arm strength!” concern. Fear not! There are lots of friendly people who are anxious to share all the awesome that is rock climbing with you and offer advice to new climbers. Also, that whole worry about lack of arm strength is a non-issue. The CRUX climbing group offers this advice on the “Do I need to be really strong and have a lot of upper body strength” question:
Not at all! If you can climb a ladder you can rock climb! While popular belief is that you need to be really strong and have a lot of upper body strength to climb, the truth is that you actually don’t. Climbing is more about balance and brains than brawn. When starting out, people who have a lot of upper body strength tend to rely on that while those that don’t will usually learn technique more quickly. People with many different body shapes and levels of fitness can all excel at climbing.
So far I’ve taken the Learn the Ropes course and gone several times with friends to complete my belay certification. If you aren’t quite ready to jump into taking a course and belaying, going alone to boulder is also a great way to check out the gym and get your feet wet.
You may be surprised to learn how many people you know who are already climbers or have always wanted to try climbing, something I’ve certainly learned since I’ve started to climb.
Follow the “Learn to Climb” series on the BKB blog to learn more about the techniques of learning to climb and about becoming part of the BKB community from Kerrin and I!