Rock Climbing — Your New Favorite Sport?

By Molly O'Brien
rock climbing

Have you ever considered rock climbing? “No thanks,” you may think. “That’s for select athletes. I’m not fit enough, and it is too complicated to learn.” Dave Jaeger, advanced climber and manager at Sun Country Rocks in Newberry, Florida has been climbing for nearly 20 years, since he was just 15 years old. He insists that anyone who is able-bodied can learn, so long as the person starts at indoor gyms with an experienced instructor. Jaeger said that the first time he ever went to a rock gym, he stayed for eight hours. “I’ve been climbing ever since,” he said.

Indoor rock climbing falls into three categories: bouldering, top-rope climbing and lead climbing.

Bouldering uses routes near the ground. No harness or rope is needed. Bouldering is great for novices looking for a simple way to practice climbing skills. Experienced climbers use the method for strength training, balance and technique.

Top-rope climbing involves scaling the full 30 feet of the gym wall. One end of a rope is secured to the climber’s harness and the other end is controlled at the bottom by a belayer. The rope anchors at the top of the wall, and is manipulated freely by the belayer in accordance with the climber’s movements. Any individual who has received simple training is suitable for belaying.

Lead climbing also involves scaling the full height of the wall. The climber’s harness is tied to one end of the rope and the other is clipped to anchors mounted along the climbing route. 

It is easy to “get bit by the climbing bug,” said Jaeger. Rock climbing is not only a great full body workout, but it is also mentally stimulating. Your brain is challenged by the constant problem solving. “A climbing route is like a puzzle to solve while the climber navigates upward,” he said.

Climbing Gyms in the Gainesville Area

Sun Country Sports

Newberry, Florida

UF Lake Wauburg

Gainesville, Florida

The Knot

Coming soon to Gainesville, Florida

Photo courtesy of On The Edge Rock Climbing Gym


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