On Belay!

Rock climbing for fun and competition


Team Mojo of Stone Age Climbing Gym Celebrates Divisional Championships

A bead of sweat drips down your face, mixing with the chalk that’s been there for much too long. You shake out, staring at the finish hold that lies ahead. The crowd cheers, silencing the deafening roar of your heartbeat. With a leap, your torn, calloused fingers latch on to the final crimp. You’ve gotten the move, and a smile erupts on your face. This is rock climbing.

When imagining this unconventional sport, people often think of sheer rock faces outside, maybe mentioning the popular movie, Free Solo starring Alex Honnold. But rock climbing is so much more than that. It’s a puzzle of bright plastic holds. It’s reaching into a pocket of determination inside yourself that you didn’t even know existed. And most of all, it’s fun.

Climber in action at Stone Age Climbing Gym

There are two main disciplines of this activity: bouldering and sport climbing. Bouldering is a type of climbing in which climbers ascend a 4.5m wall with no harness. This discipline usually contains powerfully dynamic moves and rounded holds called slopers or tiny holds called crimps. In the words of Michael Kienzle ‘23, “I enjoy [bouldering] because the liberating feeling as you send a problem is rivaled only by figuring out that math problem that’s been bugging you for days.” Boulders are called problems because one needs to solve them to reach the top.
On the other hand, sport climbing encompasses all climbing done with a harness, and these routes can be 50-60 meters long. It’s on sport climbs that one can look down from the rock and see how tiny they are in the world. Climbing can be done recreationally or competitively, but it’s the most supportive competitive environment a person can be surrounded by. At a national competition, climbers will cheer for someone from across the country that they met three minutes prior. This is because they all have the same goal: to get to the top. There’s no one way to accomplish this, and seeing others leap, stretch, and swing to the finish hold in different ways is thrilling.

…the liberating feeling as you send a problem is rivaled only by figuring out that math problem that’s been bugging you for days.”

— Michael Kienzle '23

There are two climbing gyms in Albuquerque, both a part of the Stone Age Climbing Gym enterprise. If you dare to walk in, you’ll be sure to see climbers laughing, conversing, and miming out the climbs they prepare to attempt. You can sign up for classes, or just a day pass. If you’re struggling to figure out the beta, or sequence of moves required to finish the climb, you can ask anyone in the gym—they’ll be happy to help you. For those who are intrigued, step outside your comfort zone and into Stone Age Climbing Gym; you’ll be hooked, like a carabiner to an anchor.