Every Sport Needs Its Stereotypes - World Class Academy

Every Sport Needs Its Stereotypes

**Check out this blog post from TCA student Declan Hadley from the school’s first semester in Spain!

Most climbers out there will tell you about certain climbing stereotypes: there is the beta sprayer, the relentless hangdogger, the owner of the “cragdog” whose dog clearly hates being at the crag… It is normal, as rock climbing becomes more popular, stereotypes develop. Now climbers do tend to be slightly different from other people; some tend to be strange and erratic, clearly marching to a drummer that no one can hear but themselves, while others are kind, relaxed, and normal enough that you might not even realize they like to fall off rocks for fun. If you are new to climbing and trying to get a handle on the different, stereotypical types of climbers, or just want to sound like you know the scene, TCA has the skinny for you on the most common climber stereotypes. And don’t worry, dear reader, we are probably not talking about you, so don’t change, we may or may not like you just as you are. 

Boulder Bros

Although we at TCA haven’t seen many of these climbers this quarter, given our stay in mainly sport climbing areas, we cannot fail to discuss a timeless classic, the Boulder Bro. This person (the term bro here is gender neutral) absolutely despises sport climbing, outdoors, or in a gym, and will tell you it’s because it is too “confining” to be “tethered” to a belayer. Failing to mention their fear of heights or the fact that they have never been able to tie a figure eight, the Boulder Bro will explain that they “need to get to know the rock, bro,” and will demonstrate by taking a twenty-minute pause after a 10-second attempt, during which they alternate sitting with their knees crossed and hopping up to pace in front of the route while nodding thoughtfully. 

Over kombucha, this climber will explain that dynos and deadpoints are really the height of human athleticism from an evolutionary perspective because relying on a rope makes you weak. Boulder Bro will also authoritatively tell you that a French Start is the purest way to begin a route, something they learned from their pen pal Claude who “only climbs in Bleau, dawg; Claude’s got it dialed!” They will generally omit that they have been disqualified from every bouldering comp they have participated in…

Often in a ratty tank top, Boulder Bro is going to tell you all about the double dyno on the V13 they’re trying, in between goes on their V6 proj. Despite all this, some of the bros are legitimate gods at bouldering, and they are universally known for their enthusiastic support: “Venga!” “Allez!” “Nice French start!” The last notable thing about the Bros is that they don’t like feet, and if they don’t need to have them on the wall, they most certainly will choose to simply rely on their hands. With all of that said, the climbing community wouldn’t be whole without our favorite Boulder Bros. 

Shirtless Sport-Climbers

Now, let’s discuss our community favorite, the Shirtless Sport-Climber. These are some of the most dedicated and vocal climbers in the business; they will scream louder than your little sister at a Harry Styles concert when they fall off a move that almost certainly doesn’t deserve the noise. Some like screaming so much, they’ll hold back the power grunts in order to let out something truly blood-curdling when they fall, and the really committed will also remember to make the most ungodly of noises on the rope pull-up. These are climbings’ overachievers and if they have to sing an entire Aria to snag a send, then damn it, they will.

The loudest tend to be males and have hair that looks groomed to be an alternate nest for cliff-dwelling birds: think Harry Styles four months post-haircut after a three-day bender. They also tend to climb shirtless to emphasize their prized climbers’ hunch.

The Shirtless’s caterwauling and wailing is tolerable at the crag; most of these climbers are climbing at their limit and can be forgiven for their primal screams. It’s when we get to what I call the Gym Banshees, that the screaming sport climber becomes insufferable. Gym banshees will get louder the higher they climb, to make sure that everyone can hear their progress up the wall. Power grunts are spittle-spraying explosions and falls generate full-blown howls. While they may be able to climb hard, the Shirtless are completely willing to utterly disrupt the entire gym, forcing you to develop hand signals for your belayer, as she can’t hear a word that you are saying. Nevertheless, the Shirtless are responsible for much of the popularity of Rock Climbing today, undoubtedly due as much to their heinous sends as to their impassioned cries and shirtless photos. 


Lastly, we have the infamous Dirtbags, perhaps the most iconic of all climbers, certainly in the U.S. Just think back to the early days of Yosemite climbing, the climbers featured in Reel Rock’s Valley Uprising, and the guys with the holely t-shirts eating ketchup packets and saltines to power up their big sends. Very few had a steady income, most living off whatever they could find, relying on the kindness of strangers, or taking minimum wage jobs in the off-season and saving up to spend months projecting big walls. Some dirtbags were notorious for never cutting their ropes, letting them get worse and worse in quality, putting their lives on the line in order to still have a full 80 meters. In the wild, Dirtbags could historically be identified from afar by the unique scent combination of patchouli oil, canned fish, and super funky climbing shoes.

Dirtbags can be found in all climbing groups, and have inspired many climbers with their “live to climb” mentality. These days, the old dirtbag tradition has changed a bit–with climbers claiming to keep the mentality, but without the hardship. These are your “Baller Dirtbags;” climbers who may live crag to crag, but instead of sheltering in second-hand tents and old sedans, these climbers are sleeping on cushy mattresses in $80,000 vans with Starlink satellite receivers and high-end gear. They quite literally live for rock climbing, yet somehow they still have the money to drive their vans, which I don’t quite understand. These nouveau Dirtbags will get testy if you question their street cred, but tend to be generous with their cold Yerba Mate and Vegan Keto sausages. They commonly travel with a guitar, banjo, or harmonica, and that makes them good guests at your campfire. Unfortunately, they are exceptionally hard to get pictures of, especially at The Climbing Academy, so for now, you’ll have to settle with pictures of the common behavior of Dirtbags.

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