“Climbing is different from other social sports,” says Bryan Yamasaki. “It can be very physically demanding. For a lot of people, their initial reaction is ‘I can’t do this.’ And then, with enough encouragement from our team members, they find they actually can do it.”
Yamasaki, the league commissioner of Stonewall Climbing, is eagerly seeking new recruits for the fall season, where participants will practice bouldering, a form of climbing without utilizing ropes or harnesses. Held indoors, teams scale 10- to 15-feet walls, steadying themselves on footholds of varying size and shape as they try to reach the top.
“Some of those walls are cut and dry, where you just climb them like a ladder,” says Yamasaki, who won a gold and a silver in climbing events at the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland. “Others require more technique and strength and skill and dexterity in order to get to the next move.”
To attract newer members, the league has instituted a handicap scoring system that allows novices to compete on an even playing field with experienced veterans. But the league is primarily a place to support others as they improve their climbing skills throughout the 10-week long season.
Yamasaki is hopeful participants will grow to love and appreciate the sport as much as he does. “For me, it’s the intrigue,” he says. “It’s putting a giant puzzle together, solving one giant problem. The reward is finishing it.”
Stonewall Climbing meets Tuesdays from 7 to 10 p.m. beginning in September at Earth Treks Crystal City, 1235 S. Clark St., Arlington, Va. Registration for bouldering season begins on July 24 and closes on Aug. 7. For more information, visit stonewallclimbing.leagueapps.com.
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