Rock & Role

climbing rock

How to identify climbers in the wild.

Some outdoor activities are pretty homogenous. Take hunting, for instance: everyone is just trying to look as rugged and camouflaged as possible. Or whitewater boating, where the only stylistic choice is whether to use a soft- or hard-sided craft. Trail running? We wouldn’t be able to tell ’em apart if it weren’t for all the different kinds of fitness watches.

But climbing hosts a whole cast of characters, each one distinct from the others. In fact, merely identifying as a “climber” doesn’t say much at all. Some folks’ idea of “climbing” is to scale the highest, coldest, iciest peaks on Earth; while for others, an eight-foot tall boulder deep in the woods is a magnum opus. There’s no sense in lumping them all into the same category. So this spring, we’ve identified the most common types of climbers to help you discern what you’re looking at out in the field.

Gym Bro
Age: 15
Living Situation: Mom & Dad’s
Favorite Snack: Fruit roll-up
Recent Climbing Trip: Regionals
Backpack: Jansport
Inspiration: Adam Ondra
Climbing Grade: Warming up on 5.13b
Catchphrase: “Double dyno!”

Trad Dad
Age: 47
Living Situation: Four-bedroom house
Favorite Snack: Trail mix
Recent Climbing Trip: Gallatin Tower
Backpack: Dana Designs
Inspiration: Peter Croft
Climbing Grade: Spicy 5.8
Catchphrase: “Safety first!”

Ice Queen
Age: 29
Living Situation: Downtown apartment
Favorite Snack: Honey Stingers
Recent Climbing Trip: Cody
Backpack: Hyperlite
Inspiration: Lynn Hill
Climbing Grade: 5.6 WI 5
Catchphrase: “It goes, boys!”

Mountain Man
Age: 33
Living Situation: Basement apartment
Favorite Snack: Black beans stuck in beard
Recent Climbing Trip: Pakistan
Backpack: Mostly duct tape
Inspiration: Reinhold Messner
Climbing Grade: M7+ 5.12 A3 WI 6 VI
Catchphrase: “Safety third!”

Age: 22
Living Situation: Astro Van
Favorite Snack: Raw oats
Recent Climbing Trip: Bishop
Backpack: Organic crash pad
Inspiration: Catherine Destivelle
Climbing Grade: V9 indoor, V4 outdoor
Catchphrase: “Good sesh”

Crack Addict
Age: 37
Living Situation: Honda Element
Favorite Snack: Hand jams
Recent Climbing Trip: Indian Creek
Backpack: Haul bag
Inspiration: Tommy Caldwell
Climbing Grade: 5.11+
Catchphrase: “Free food?”

Crag Princess
Age: 25
Living Situation: Mercedes 4x4 Sprinter
Favorite Snack: Gluten-free cookies
Recent Climbing Trip: Squamish
Backpack: None (boyfriend carries)
Inspiration: Sasha DiGiulian
Climbing Grade: 5.9
Catchphrase: “Take!”

Strong Guy
Age: 43
Living Situation: Truck-bed camper
Favorite Snack: Protein shake
Recent Climbing Trip: Lander
Backpack: Mystery Ranch
Inspiration: Todd Skinner
Climbing Grade: 5.13a
Catchphrase: “I climb 5.13”