The Personality Types You’ll Meet When You Climb
After you’ve been climbing for a while, you might start to notice recurring personality types among climbers. A variety of people climb, so you do see a variety of personality, but there seem to be some inescapable archetypes in the climbing community. A single archetype can’t categorize any single human, and most of us are a blend of several character types; that being said, it’s still fun to spot the familiar climbing personalities that show up around your gym or the crag.
Below are ten climber archetypes that you might commonly encounter (for better or worse) in your local climbing area:
These are people that are climbers because they’re naturally outdoorsy, and they fell into climbing as a byproduct of wearing flannel shirts and Chaco sandals. Hipsters use climbing as a way to commune with nature, and to detach from the digital world. They don’t generally care about being the best climbers. They enjoy being in the mountains.
The Gym Bro
We’re not sure if this guy (or girl) has ever left a gym. Generally, these people are fitness freaks, but utterly lack the skills necessary for them to survive in the outdoors. Gym Bros might be capable of onsighting a 5.13 in the gym, but they become utterly confused when the holds are not obviously color coded. These individuals can always be spotted in your local gym, often wearing tank-tops and grunting around the campus board.
The Solemn Boulderer
Bouldering can be a fun social gathering, but it can also be a solo adventure that entails quietly working on a problem. Next time you’re at a bouldering area, look past the crowd of people that are socializing while they climb. If you look around, you’ll find the solemn boulderer stoically working on a project alone.
The Shirtless Sport Climber
A close cousin to the gym bro, the sport climber, can often be seen loudly grunting as he makes his way to the top of a local single-pitch route. It’s also likely that this loud grunting individual is shirtless. We’re not sure why the sport climber insists on going shirtless, perhaps they’re a sensitive people that feel restricted by thin cotton covering.
Sport climbers tend to be number chasers, in the sense that they’re constantly striving to climb a more difficult grade. To the sport climber, there’s nothing more important than the difficulty of the grade that they’re climbing. Their ego forces them to stay off of easy routes, and they often skip the warming-up, perhaps fearing that people will see them on more accessible routes.
Male or female, this individual is a hyper-positive person that is continually encouraging friends, family, acquaintances, and perfect strangers to get to the top of a climbing route. At times their optimism can seem overwhelming (aka annoying), but their shouts of encouragement always come from the best of places.
Also known as a Noob, these individuals are new to the climbing world. Like the lovable clay animation character, Gumbys are still bumbling through their rock climbing adventures and have yet to find their way in the world. These affable noobs need a little bit of guidance, so be sure to help them out and offer any advice that you can. We were all Gumbys once.
The Cool Guy
Most people climb because it’s a great way to enjoy nature, but others climb because it looks cool. The “Cool Guy” is perhaps the worst kind of person. This is the guy (or girl) that climbs for their ego and to get some “likes” on Instagram. They “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” as if they’ve free-soloed El Cap dozens of times, but the reality is they haven’t ventured beyond the local climbing crag.
The Sarcastic Trad Climber
If you climb long trad routes for a while, you develop a great sense of sarcasm. It’s just something that naturally happens after you’ve stared down death a few times. Sarcasm is a great coping mechanism for the stress that is endured during an epic adventure, and eventually, that sarcasm begins to manifest itself in every aspect of your personal life. Don’t be put off by a sarcastic trad climber that is making jokes regarding your impending death. They can’t help it.
Perhaps the purest of climbers, these are the individuals that hold the true essence of mountaineering in their soul. Men and women that live to reach the top of scary mountains, regardless of the terrain they have to cross. Perhaps they’re the spiritual descendants of John Muir, but these individuals look beyond sport crags and climbing routes to nowhere –they desire only high summits.
To be fair, most of the archetypes can overlap with the Dirtbag. Often mistaken for the homeless, Dirtbags are individuals that live out of their vans so that they can live, breathe, and embody all forms of rock climbing. Their diet is often terrible, they generally haven’t showered for days (or weeks), and they have less than ten dollars typically to their name –but the sacrifice is entirely worth it to a true Dirtbag. Few of us ever take the leap and become Dirtbags, but all of us have dreamed about it.
Are You My Type?
Remember, someone’s archetype doesn’t determine if they’re a good or bad human, and there’s variation in the different personality types you’ll see at the local rock climbing crag. Nevertheless, it’s still fun to try and identify some of the more distinct climber characters. Give it a go and attempt to spot some of the obvious archetypes the next time you’re out on the rocks. Sometimes these archetypes are so blatantly apparent they’re hard to miss.