Brooke Grubb hangs nearly upside down on a hold trying to find a way to shift her weight or move her body up the wall. The graduate student studying biology at APSU has to use her brain in a different manner. No longer thinking of the physical structure of an organism, her mind is dealing with understanding the physical structure of the route she is on.
“There is always this filling of pure happiness when you get to the top of a route,” Grubb said. “You can say that you did it. [You] pieced together all the moves and figured out how you needed your body to move to make it to this point.”
Grubb, a guest of the gym, is talking about bouldering, a form of climbing that has come to the Clarksville community through the Clarksville Climbing Gym. Bouldering is a form of climbing that is free of harness and equipment, leaving the individual only with their brain and brawn to come over challenges on the route.
CCG, located at 119 W Dunbar Cave Rd, offers a multitude of bouldering walls for guests to challenge. Opened in June of 2018, the gym constantly changes the routes, or paths that climbers may take to scale the wall, in order to keep the product fresh and difficult for challengers. The paths are rated on a scale and highlighted by having the same colored holds to lead the way.
“A climbing gym can help create a connection with people face-to-face,” Samuel Montague said. The idea of building the community was a central pillar in Montague’s plans to start CCG.
“[I have seen] a lot of connections already happening here,” Montague said. “A lot of confidence building as well. We have had people who have never climbed before who did not think they could do it to people who have a great passion for climbing.”
The gym brings a number of guests that have different backgrounds when it comes to climbing.
“I used to climb in high school, but I had not done any since then,” Claire Ciafre said. “When I heard this was opening up I wanted to get involved again.”
For Ciafre, also a graduate student at APSU, bouldering has quickly become the favorite form of climbing.
“I like the free form of movement [ when it comes to bouldering” Ciafre said. “It does not feel like work, unlike other forms of exercising.”
Like many climbers, bouldering works as a distraction. The challenges are fun and tend to be a primary way that climbers stay in shape.
“It is a great way of tricking myself into exercising without running around a track.” Ciafre said. “it’s exploration, it’s problem solving and it’s fun.”
The act of climbing pushes a climber to find the way up the wall.
“When you try to do a boulder problem you have to figure out how to get your way up the wall,” Ciafre said. “It is like a math problem where you are given a certain set and you have to figure out how to solve that set.”
The benefits of climbing are more than just the fun. Unlike team sports, or competitive competitions, the challenges can be completed individually and on your own. Going to the gym does not feel like a hassle for climbers.
“I do it for stress reduction,” Ciafre said. “It was more stress reducing then anything I have done.”
When it comes to setting routes, there is a process to turning the wall into a collective and coherent series of crisscrossing paths that create challenges and confront climbers. Typically, multiple individuals will contribute to putting together an entire bouldering wall, each having their own ideas playing a role in building the final product.
For Kurtis Watts, an employee of CCG, building a route is an art.
“It is kind of like an artist with paint and a canvas,” Watts said. “The wall is our empty canvas and the paint is our climbing holds. We can put those wherever they may go.”
Despite the difficulty factor and the freedom spreading out routes, they are never made to be unbeaten. The purpose going into the design is to push climbers to think about how they can use their body, as well as their mind, to accomplish their goal.
“It is not like you are putting holds on the wall for people to go up,” Watts said. “There is movement to it, you have to think about the ways your body could go. Rather it be the way you move your feet or cross your hands over, we set routes to be movement based because climbing is a movement-based sport.”
Watts is not the only route maker with the gym. Montague works on the floor as much as he does in the office.
“[Sam] likes to think about every move his is going to make prior to that in his setting,” Watts said. “He likes to start one place and he knows where he is going with that.”
However, completing the route is not exclusive to one pattern. The features on the wall, such as humps, dips or even flat surfaces, can be used as spots for climbers to push their weight against and find a way up.
“You can be creative and sometimes come up on the spot,” Watts said. “I will through a couple of holds on the wall randomly and build a way up to that and out of it to the top of the wall.”
Watts has been employed by CCG since it had opened, meaning that he has helped shape routes on the wall from the beginning.
“For me, I like to get on the wall and see where it goes,” Watts said.
Starting in 2019, CCG will be changing membership packages. A day pass comes at $12.50 with 10 percent student and military discounts. An electronic funds transfer membership comes at $50 a month with a one-time $45 set up fee. Prepaid memberships come at $65 a month starting in the new year.