I’ve been thinking about community a lot recently, these groups of like minded people, sharing a common focus, passion or goal. What really stands out to me is the power of the groups. Like a large family, they have their problems, but the shared purpose draws them together and pushes them forward.
The climbing community is an interesting group. Increasingly large, it still feels small in many ways. How many times have you chatted up a stranger at the cliff, only to find you knew a bunch of the same people?
I’ve often wondered about the us versus them mentality so present at crowded cliffs. If it’s people we don’t know, their presence might offend us, a nuisance to be dealt with. But if we know everyone, suddenly it’s a big party of friends, all so lucky to partake in this incredible activity, this lifestyle, the pursuit of climbing. This past weekend was a busy one at the local winter cliff, and though it felt kind of crazy, it was also really cool to see so many friends, all getting after it in the warm March sunshine.
“It feels like we are in Rifle,” The room was full of familiar faces, many who visit Rifle Mountain Park each weekend, to test themselves on the cryptic, overhanging stone. We were there to mourn the loss of a friend, and in that sorrow, we found comfort and strength in our midst. Dave was gone, but we would hold his memory in our collective conscious, remembering the good with the bad.
Sometimes we need a reminder that a community will have those who are learning, and those who are wiser. Those who we should seek out for their wisdom and truths, and those who have much to learn, though their part of it be no less important. We were all reckless noobs at one point, and yet here we are, part of this large, thriving, complex organism.
I’ve always been thankful for our local climbing community. Largely devoid of the BS that seems to thrive in some other places (Arizona, cough, cough), it’s a collection of authentic and incredibly stoked people. New routes get put up all the time, with the realization there’s plenty of rock to go around for everyone. Ego’s seem less of an issue, it’s all about the climbing. We cherish our local choss crags, even if in Europe they wouldn’t even be suitable for the town dump.
As humans, we have an inherent need to belong, to be part of something bigger. It gives us purpose, motivation, and clarity amongst the chaos of daily life. I’m thankful for all the communities I’m a part of, especially the climbing one, with all its faults, imperfections, hopes, dreams and incredible people.