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Will future big names all come from competitive gym climbing?
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Oct 21, 2015
Vast majority of the big names in trad/aid/cutting edge climbing today who are under 40yo all seem to have grown up in the competitive gym climbing world, not just dabbled in it, but were ingrained in it...

Caldwell
Jorgesen
Trotter
Ondra
Honnold
Harrington
Rodden
Digiliuan
etc.

So it seems being a competitive gym climber is almost a prerequisite these days to make it as a professional climber, even if your interest is in trad, big wall, alpine, even mountaineering to a certain extent. Maybe the competitive climbing circuit is evolving into a farm system where future major league stars will come from.

True? Are there big names who never competed in a gym?
Legion
Joined Oct 13, 2010
92 points
Administrator
Oct 21, 2015
Colin Haley? Lurker
From Westwood
Joined Nov 24, 2007
2,593 points
Oct 21, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: We shall continue with style
Hayden Kennedy BigB
From Red Rock, NV
Joined Feb 18, 2015
311 points
Oct 21, 2015
Didier Berthod, Nico Favresse, Sean V, Mason Earle, just a few. WyomingSheepRanch
From Silt, Colorado
Joined Aug 5, 2011
83 points
Oct 21, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: We shall continue with style
What about the wideboyz from england?
Tom & Pete
BigB
From Red Rock, NV
Joined Feb 18, 2015
311 points
Oct 21, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Cannon
Ive been thinking about this a lot lately. Maybe not necessarily gym climbing but from a sport background. Zac.St.Jules
From New Hampshire
Joined Dec 20, 2013
1,176 points
Administrator
Oct 21, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
Indoor climbing competition seems to garner the most sponsorship. Sponsorship also has a vested interest in exposing their athletes to push product. So it's no surprise really that these pros that you mention are on the tip of your tongue. They get the most visibility. I would venture to say however, that there are plenty of people out there, perhaps just as many, doing really gnarly things at a consistently high level that have eschewed sponsorship or just never were viewed as marketable.

I don't think it really matters what your background is. At the end of the day, you can either do the shit or you can't. Having a "head start" in a gym can be as much of an inhibitor as it can an augmentation or advantage. It all depends on the person. You can find badasses from every walk.
Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Joined Jul 30, 2011
1,231 points
Oct 21, 2015
Kate Rutherford and Madeline Sorkin Matt.Zia
From Leadville, CO
Joined Mar 13, 2012
181 points
Oct 21, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: A photo of me on Across the Universe taken by the ...
The kids on the climbing team at my gym (CRG, Watertown) start young — real young — and they train hard (at least two hours) three days a week and get great coaching. Some of them climb at the gym on weekends as well. How can any outdoor set-up compete with that?

In today's world, nobody would ever ask, "So it seems that swimming in an indoor pool is almost a prerequisite these days in order to become an Olympic swimmer."

or

"So it seems that playing hockey in an indoor rink is almost a prerequisite these days in order to become an NHL player."

Ah, yeah. Duh.
Nick Grant
From Natick, MA & Tamworth, NH
Joined Oct 20, 2012
135 points
Oct 21, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Old Lady H
My guess is that very, very soon, there will be even more growth, and more interesting facilities, in indoor/outdoor artificial climbing. People like to climb stuff, that's something we are taught to grow out of. So, outdoor climbing for those of us who are inclined that way. Indoor, could easily become a sport very much like gymnastics, especially as creativity gets applied to artificial climbing apparatus. A few years from now, they may be as disparate as biathlon and ski jumping, and downhill. All directions a kid could go who straps on skis when they're little.

If nothing else, indoors invites charging for spectatorship. And, last I looked, couch potatoes outweigh, ahem, outnumber those who actually do stuff by a pretty hefty, ahem, large, ahem. A bunch.
Old lady H
From Boise, Idaho
Joined Aug 24, 2015
72 points
Oct 21, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: en route to wham ridge  Photo by Carl Schnitker
I wonder how long it will take this thread to devolve into and old vs new climbing debate and circle jerk. I've got my bingo card ready eli poss
From Durango, Co
Joined May 9, 2014
422 points
Oct 21, 2015
Nick Grant wrote:
In today's world, nobody would ever ask, "So it seems that swimming in an indoor pool is almost a prerequisite these days in order to become an Olympic swimmer." or "So it seems that playing hockey in an indoor rink is almost a prerequisite these days in order to become an NHL player." Ah, yeah. Duh.


Not really a good analogy. The original observation was about kids going from gym competitions to big outdoor climbs... big transition.

That is very different than a swimmer going from an indoor pool to an Olympics indoor pool. Or a hockey player going from an indoor rink to an NHL rink... not a transition at all really.

Based on other comments here, it actually seems like there are plenty of high end climbers who come from all backgrounds, not just gym competitions, though it seems it'll eventually skew heavy towards gym climbers. Not trying to debate... was just curious :)
Legion
Joined Oct 13, 2010
92 points
Oct 21, 2015
Legion wrote:
Not really a good analogy. The original observation was about kids going from gym competitions to big outdoor climbs... big transition. That is very different than a swimmer going from an indoor pool to an Olympics indoor pool. Or a hockey player going from an indoor rink to an NHL rink... not a transition at all really. Based on other comments here, it actually seems like there are plenty of high end climbers who come from all backgrounds, not just gym competitions, though it seems it'll eventually skew heavy towards gym climbers. Not trying to debate... was just curious :)


I agree somewhat, not totally though.

Your original hypothesis and tone seem to suggest surprise that the people who do difficult big routes as adults are the ones who have always done difficult routes. The only difference is that the scope has changed because they've grown up. In that sense, the analogy to swimming or hockey is perfect.

It's the world were in, it's all refined and every angle is explored. In order to be world class at anything, you need to start as a child. This will become even more true in another generation (when the kids I'm thinking of grow up).
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion
From Colorado
Joined Oct 29, 2012
43 points
Oct 21, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: A photo of me on Across the Universe taken by the ...
Legion, the comparison that I was trying to make is that, back in the day, Olympic swimmers trained outside in a pond, lake, or sea. NHLers trained outdoors on frozen natural surfaces. But today, both swimmers and hockey players have specialized indoor training facilities that allow them to train with much more frequency in a controlled environment. This kind of training has enabled them to make great strides forward in their respective sports.

And the same is true for all the young crushers who are emerging in the climbing world.
Nick Grant
From Natick, MA & Tamworth, NH
Joined Oct 20, 2012
135 points
Oct 22, 2015
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The essence of diminishing returns.


Mile run records (world record last set in 1999). Swap mile times for climbing grades and you get the idea - there won't be a 5.20 if people are being honest. Biomechanics and physics intervene. The chess guys had to face up to computers and climbers will have to face up to a new 'wall' and an old saw: 'a man's got to know his limitations'...
Healyje
From PDX
Joined Jan 31, 2006
226 points
Oct 22, 2015
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I'm not seeing any diminishing returns on that graph. It looks quite linear, actually. Jon H
From Boulder
Joined Nov 24, 2009
138 points
Oct 22, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: girl40
Yeah, right until 1999 when it hit the wall and no one since has broken that record since - 16 years with no progress when prior to that there was a steady - as you would say, linear - progression of people breaking the world record. Lately? How likely is it that someone will, and if they do, it probably won't be by double-digit seconds; more like by a sub-second to two seconds margin more likely. Again, diminishing returns... Healyje
From PDX
Joined Jan 31, 2006
226 points
Oct 22, 2015
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The y axis is misleading. Mike Hancock
Joined Jun 11, 2013
37 points
Oct 22, 2015
Who cares?!?! gyms have taken the soul out of the sport and replaced it with plastic BS. I bet theres lots of guys out there with no sponsor who you dost read about in the magazines because there not sponsored and just climb because they love itstead of look at me I want to be famous!!!!! plastic, to sport to topdown "TRAD" I'd rather not climb 5.13 then cheat!!!! Its CLIMBING I thought the idea was to start at the bottem and go up not walk around first or pracise at some plastic cave next to the MALL!!! - oh I went "climbing" and then hit the gap next door NOT FOR ME!!! NESteve
From Lake Placid, NY
Joined Aug 2, 2015
4 points
Oct 22, 2015
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They are all gym climbers,already now
and now.they cross the ranks from alpine to bouldering
To the Seven summits or is that eight summits?

I don't pull plastic but it is the type of climbing my kids like best.
It pains me, I want them to climb but the nearest gym is at least a 45 minute ride.
I do not want to be involved in the climbing gym business, anymore.
but I would have,
I looked into buying or renting the Borders Book space that became a planet fitness gym instead.

While I was looking into the idea I found that the rate of climber turn over was very high .
The stability of the business was going to damn the prospective that I would have to provide to lure in investors. I would have to disclose those and other facts that were counter to sound universally agreed to investment norms. Just the insurance and increase in rent due to the un coded structures used to climb on made the whole option a no or small profit driven enterprise.

The dollars could be made through aggressive teaching and outdoor, 'guiding'
again a thing that to do correctly needs to be a labour of love and an injection of personal cash & time . Both the money and time I think is better invested in college tuitions & selfish pursuits.

the graph I would like to see would show the rise in age of high standard climbers from the 60s into the next decade. In the late 90s? at the Red River in Kentucky it was a very young David Hume. I Think? Who said of the climb called the Maddness?, that it was nothing more than a gym ladder climb - or something like that, - just before he ticked his climb ? B.O.H.I.C.A.?

So the time that you speak of seems to already be upon us the change is now the future is now 5.16 is now and so the potential exists for a an 11 year old to out climb a 12 year old.
Michael Schneider
Joined Apr 24, 2014
500 points
Oct 22, 2015
To the original poster, I am not sure that your examples actually clearly show climbers who have been "ingrained" in it. Caldwell, Rodden, Honnold, Harrington, etc., all were on the com circuit for a bit, and quite a few of them you could make the case that they learned the bulk of their initial climbing in a gym. But none of them particularly stood out in the comp scene. They are not in the same league of "ingrained" as folks like Alex Puccio, Sean McColl, or any of those 9a/comp monster Basques across the Atlantic. It is interesting that Alex Megos, arguably the best climber in the world after Ondra, is NOT a product of competitive climbing although he certainly was/is a gym rat.

Actually, if you look at a lot of the kids who have dominated comp climbing through the last 15 years or so, it's more a case of "where are they now?" rather than they being big names in the outdoor comp world. Nels Rossassen? Aaron Shamy? John Stack?

There's alway Ondra, who is definitely a dominator in the comp scene and the outdoor scene, but it is clear that he simply excels in climbing period, rather than "coming" from the gym/comp scene.
Pnelson
Joined Jan 1, 2015
58 points
Oct 22, 2015
It's almost as if you can get more practice in on a set of specifically tailored climbs in a gym setting than you can by spending 2 hours hiking and then climbing a bunch of easy stuff to get to 1 or 2 moves that are at your level. Matt Wilson
From Vermont, USA
Joined May 15, 2010
261 points
Oct 22, 2015
NESteve wrote:
Who cares?!?! gyms have taken the soul out of the sport and replaced it with plastic BS. !



Climbing has no soul, it is not a thing. It is something that YOU do. The fact that someone else enjoys something similar but in a different way than you do should not effect your enjoyment of it. If it does, that sounds like a personal problem.

NESteve wrote:
I bet theres lots of guys out there with no sponsor who you dost read about in the magazines because there not sponsored and just climb because they love itstead of look at me I want to be famous!!!!!


This if for sure true, and it is perfect. Those who do not pursue sponsors or attention, will, by their own intent, not get sponsors or attention. What's wrong with that? How does that affect how much you enjoy this sport?
Sandy Crimp
Joined Jan 3, 2013
48 points
Oct 22, 2015
Michael Schneider wrote:
Tat the Red River in Kentucky it was a very young David Hume. I Think? Who said of the climb called the Maddness?, that it was nothing more than a gym ladder climb - or something like that, - just before he ticked his climb ? B.O.H.I.C.A.?


That was a young Chris Sharma, back when he was still a cocky little punk. He called The Madness a "crimp ladder with no moves."
Pnelson
Joined Jan 1, 2015
58 points
Oct 22, 2015
NESteve wrote:
I bet theres lots of guys out there with no sponsor who you dost read about in the magazines because there not sponsored and just climb because they love itstead of look at me I want to be famous!!!!!


Yeah who would want to make a living climbing, that sounds horrible. What a bunch of narcissistic freaks.
DEF
From Boston, MA
Joined Aug 5, 2009
62 points
Administrator
Oct 22, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me and the offspring walking back to the car after...
NESteve wrote:
Who cares?!?!


Clearly you do. About what though, I'm unsure. Your diatribe is barely legible.
Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Joined Jul 30, 2011
1,231 points


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