Spoiler Alert! Gym Etiquette with Nick Edwards
This post was written by Oregon based climber & Orbital Climbing athlete Nick Edwards. Find him on instagram @nicholouse
Let's imagine you are waiting in line at the movie theater and you notice someone getting tickets to a movie you've seen. You might recommend the movie, but you probably wouldn't tell them your favorite parts or reveal the plot twist. So why do so many climbers do this at the gym, or even worse, at the crag?
Even when beta is sprayed out there with the best of intentions, it can have some pretty harmful effects. Not only can giving away the beta to a problem take the fun out of it for the climber, but it might actually make the recipient feel belittled or unwelcome.
While I was president of the Indoor Rock Climbing Club at Oregon State, I had the privilege of talking to many members about their experiences at the college wall and with climbing in general. One of the biggest complaints I got was that a lot of guys would approach them and start telling them how to climb a problem; this happened not only on projects, but also warm ups and everything in between. For many of them, the beta spray didn't end when they got on the wall, it continued as they were climbing. Many of these climbers have been climbing for a long time and certainly did not need to be told how to climb their warm up. I heard this complaint from both men and women, but women seemed to experience the worst of it.
Beta spraying can be incredibly inappropriate and disrespectful. An experience like this can drive climbers, new and seasoned, away from a sport that they may otherwise love.
What can you do about it?
Figure out why you are feeling the urge to spray. Find a better way to address the situations. Most of the time simply asking the person if they want beta works well as an alternative.
* Maybe you want to break the ice with that cute girl or guy. Or just meet some new people. Start the conversation by asking if they want beta.
* Maybe someone is struggling with a move and you have an idea that might help. Again, just ask.
* Maybe you just really want that person to know that you also climbed that route or problem. Saying "I loved that problem," gets across the same point.
* Maybe you find yourself at the other end of the situation. There are kind ways to ask them to stop, and if appropriate, explain why. I truly believe that most climbers do it to be helpful. Be helpful back and educate them.
It's no fun if the cool plot twist is ruined for you before you see the movie, and it’s the same with a route or problem. It's fun working on a problem with someone else or figuring out the sequence alone; it's my personal favorite part of climbing. It feels great to find the cool beta or to grab an onsight. I'm not opposed to talking out the beta with another climber, and in the right situations I love to hear other peoples beta. But I want to work through the problem first.
This is just one thing you can do that helps to ensure climbing remains a welcoming and fun community. You wouldn't ruin their movie so why ruin their climb?