Athletes find love at first climb

To the right, grab the yellow hold. That’s it. Move yourself up. Then the one to your left. Ignore the trembling hand. The climb is almost over. It’ll all be worth it soon.

These couple seconds of stress and tension represent a few decisive moments in a rock climber’s head: the final push to the top of the wall. The sport could seem deceptively simple when at the bottom of the wall, yet the true intensity of the sport is understood once any beginner attempts it. Boulderdash Indoor Rock Climbing sits off Hampshire Road in Westlake and is home to many local climbers.

After a seemingly simple birthday party, Jonah Baker, NPHS senior, discovered his love for rock climbing. Baker finds himself whisking hours away at not only Boulderdash, but many other outdoor climbing spots in Bishop and Malibu. Baker often spends two to three hours almost every day at the climbing gym, spending time with his friends of many years, learning new techniques and pushing his limits. The time Baker has dedicated to climbing has allowed him to find his weaknesses and improve them. “For a very long time, I’ve been a more technique based climber so just like the physical strength aspect of climbing is not so great for me,” Baker said.

Baker, among other climbers at the gym, is part of the youth athletic team that competes nationwide and potentially internationally. They train at Boulderdash three times a week but also tend to practice outside nearly every day. To ensure the walls continue to present new challenges to climbers, sections are reset weekly.

The lure of potentially traveling all throughout the world pulled Hannah Delkeskamp, TOHS senior, into the passionate climbing atmosphere. “[Climbing] takes you to a lot of places because there’s so many places to go outdoor climbing…My dad went to Greece for climbing a couple months ago, which was really cool,” Delkeskamp said.

Beyond the traveling aspect, Delkeskamp acknowledges how the battle may not always necessarily be with the climb itself, but instead internally. “You can really tell on which days you feel strong, which days you feel weak because you have to use so many of your muscles. So it’s kind of hard to get over the days when you feel weak and are trying to stay motivated,” Delkeskamp said.

As someone who competed on the team in his high school years, Dylan Narkawicz has a unique understanding of the competitive environment from a climber’s perspective. When the gym needed coaches, Dylan was the perfect fit due to his experience and knowledge. He finds it rewarding to help climbers experience the thrill of conquering challenging routes and finding the missing puzzle piece to complete their climb. “Some people sometimes come in and they’ve been working on something for weeks. They’ve been coming in every day and working on it and working on it and struggling to do it. And then all of a sudden, one day they finally figure it out like piece by piece and it really is like a puzzle. And it’s like, you’re slowly adding little parts to it. And then one day you figure out the whole thing,” Narkawicz said.

Climbing not only promotes an active lifestyle that can be enjoyed by a wide audience, but boosts confidence and well-being through the journey into which climbers are pulled. “I’ve had climbs take like 100 plus hours to do so. And a lot of the times it’s just the process that is really rewarding. So it’s not so much the end result sometimes,” Baker said.