For many, the climbing gym is an escape from the real world. A place to let go, have fun, and connect, both with yourself and the community. To allow everyone an enjoyable and uplifting experience, it’s essential that we all abide by the following laws of gym etiquette:
1. Be aware of your surroundings
A climbing gym has many moving parts – make sure you’re out of harm’s way by taking note of who is doing what around you. Stay out of the fall zone of boulderers and don’t get in the way of any belayers or climbers on the high walls. When bouldering, consider the drop zone of the climb you’re on and don’t be afraid to ask a friendly stranger for a spot. Safety first!
2. Focus on your climber while belaying
Your attention is their safety, and the golden rule is to belay how you would like to be belayed. Don’t be a distraction diablo – refrainform conversing with a belayer doing their job safely.
3. Neat and tidy does it!
As much as we shouldn’t touch gear that doesn’t belong to us, if your cargo is a big ol’ mess, people will be tempted to shove it out the way. Make sure your gear is kept neat and compact so that it doesn’t interfere with others’ climbing or belaying. Water bottles and other objects lying around in the bouldering area can harm anyone coming off the wall, so please make sure to clear the fall zone before you or anyone else hops on a problem.
4. Keep it light and positive
The climbing gym is a vibe. There is a fantastic sense of community and overwhelming support, for everyone from hardcore crushers to the noobiest beginners. It’s one of the few places you won’t get funny looks for hurling “ALLEEEZZ YOU GOT THIS!” at a stranger. Positive reinforcement is one of the best parts of climbing, so stay motivated, encouraging and enthusiastic. It’s okay to have a bad day, but don’t carry a dark cloud around with you. If you are using any adult language, keep it to your own personal group so as not to traumatise the younglings.
5. No climbing shoes, no climbing
To maintain good hygiene, avoid any barefoot climbing in a gym. Not only is it kind of gross to slather the holds in toe jam, but it also helps you to stay safe and avoid unnecessary injury (such as toe maiming) on the wall. While some gyms may allow you to remove your shirt, wearing a top can also help to keep dripping sweat to a minimum – your spotter will thank you! Luckily, ventilation is a priority for most gyms, so even with shoes and a shirt you’ll be far from melting.
6. Those who brush it, crush it!
Brush. Your. Holds. The more chalk builds up on a grip, the more slimy and slippery it is. Improve your chances of sending by giving holds a brushy brushy before you get on, and brush them again when you’re done to save the next climber some trouble. Also, don’t hop on a climb if someone has just brushed it and chalked up.
7. Don’t betaspray (or gearspray)
Half the fun of climbing is figuring out how to get from top to bottom – don’t take away the game! If you think someone could benefit from your beta, ask them politely if you can offer some suggestions. Likewise, if you see someone using gear incorrectly or unsafely, approach the situation in a polite manner and use a calm tone to correct the mistake or ask the climber to come down.
8. Don’t be a hangdog
In other words, don’t hog routes! If you’re bouldering, work on a rotation with the climbers around you and give the climb one or two burns before allowing the next person to hop on. When sport climbing, try not to stay on one rope or wall for too long. Be cognisant of anyone else that may be queuing for a route, and make sure that the problem you’re about to do doesn’t cross a climb that someone is already on.
9. When in doubt, ask
99.9% of climbers are helpful, willing and kind people who aim to support and uplift the community. So, whether you aren’t sure of the rules, would like some beta on a route, or you really dig someone’s pants, go forth and enquire! Pretty much everyone can remember what it’s like to be a new climber, and people will most likely respond positively if you ask for advice or guidance – consider it a climbers’ tax.
10. When in Rome…
Each gym has its own rules and regulations. As much as we may not always like them, it’s part of the deal that we need to respect the people that have opened their doors to us. Don’t pick a fight or ask for special treatment, and treat all staff members with respect – every rule has its purpose and running a gym is no easy job
Arm yourself with (mostly) good behaviour and a willingness to learn, prepare to make the gym your oyster!