What is the attraction to climbing? It’s like vertical walking. Big deal. Except it’s a lot tougher. Anthony Medynski, the Collicutt field house program assistant for the climbing wall, has been climbing for the last five years. That’s right; you can head to the Collicutt Centre and climb a wall, that’s like an indoor training facility, for actual rock climbers.
Medynski says there are similarities and differences to the real outdoor experience. “A lot of the same movements. A lot of the same muscles are used. (But) as an overall experience, it’s quite different.”
As a workout though, the indoor climbing walls at the Collicutt are designed to have you huffing and puffing. “I’d compare 10 minutes of straight climbing without coming off the wall would be comparable, fatigue-wise, to maybe a half hour run.”
Of course when you’re running you use your legs. Your arms pump your legs. However, climbing is a whole new batch of eggs. The main muscles used are “your forearm muscles, finger muscles and Lats are kinda your main muscles involved.”
Basically, if you want to look like Popeye, never have to give up your favourite pen at work, and want to look dangerous leaving a room then this is the perfect workout for you. Seriously though, climbing is more than just brawn.
“People don’t realize there’s a lot more than just strength involved in it. There’s a lot of technique that takes a long time to acquire. So you don’t have to use the muscles as much.”
And that’s where it gets you. Sure you’re strong. Great athlete. But rock climbing is still a challenge you. Why? Because most of us use our finger muscles for writing autographs and telling other drivers they’re number one. “You can’t just come in being a really strong guy and just be good at it.”
When you get to the Collicutt you’ll notice that there are different sized and shaped climbing holds that look like pegs. They’re colour-coded.
“We have various routes ranging from C1 to C5. All routes have a beginning to end. The climbers follow the routes with both they’re hands and feet. C1 is the easiest, C5 is the hardest. And we have a full range in between.”
A five-year veteran like Medynski still finds the wall challenging.
“C5 is challenging. I can get through some of them. It depends.”
Now for those who crave or need the real thing. Need to climb outdoors. Smell the trees. And don’t want a path laid out for you. Anthony says the best place near Red Deer is a couple hours away.
“There’s a lot around Canmore. Grassy Lakes in particular is a very large area for climbing.”
However, if you’re ok doing the indoor thing, there are also bouldering classes that give you an entirely different type of challenge. There are climbing classes for young and old, starting at the Collicutt this month or check daily for wall and boulder climbing drop-in times.