Rock the Gym
Wilmington Rock Gym hosts Women's Climbing Night
There are so many ways to stay active in Wilmington, such as swimming in the ocean, walking, or running around the many gorgeous trails with water views and surfing, but just because the coast is relatively flat doesn’t mean being an active climber is out of the question.
“Wilmington Rock Gym was founded on August 23, 2016, by Charles Ferrar,” says climbing wall assistant ALEXIS OLSON. “He opened the gym so that he would have a place to train and a hub for our climbing community. We offer both bouldering and top roping with a variety of grades for any skill set. Whether you’ve never touched a rock or have climbed trad at Yosemite, we’ve got a little something for everyone.”
Olson’s focus is on safety through the instruction of proper use of gear and climbing techniques.
“I also give belay tests, gym orientations, staff belays, lead summer youth climbing camps, perform safety checks, and wall maintenance, run the front desk, and sell retail,” Olson says.
As part of its ongoing effort to broaden Wilmington residents’ horizons and opportunities, Wilmington Rock Gym hosts a Women’s Climbing Night on the second Friday of every month for women of all skill levels.
“Gyms can be intimidating places for anyone, especially if you have no prior experience,” Olson says. “We wanted to create a no-pressure environment for women to come and try it out. For women’s climbing nights, there’s no experience necessary. Staff members belay each group on our top-roping routes while providing instruction when needed.”
“We’re there to make sure that people feel comfortable and have fun! When possible, we have an all-female staff working that night,” she adds.
The event has changed a bit due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is still available. “Participants now must complete health as well as safety waivers before coming to the gym,” Olson says.
The event has one-hour time slots starting from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and is limited to six people per hour. Participants have to sign up for a time slot on the website beforehand, she says.
The gym is a members-only facility and has a reduced capacity of twenty people at any given time. The gym also has a tool showing how many climbers are currently in the gym.
“Rock climbing can be an important part of mental and physical health,” Olson says. “It works out and strengthens your entire body, often making you feel more connected to yourself. It’s great for people who have a hard time finding the motivation to lift weights or do intense cardio because when you’re climbing, you’re having fun, not thinking this is work!”
Olson started climbing in South Dakota during her undergrad with a few friends.
“I love how climbing makes me feel powerful and in control of my body. I’ve gained a lot of confidence by increasing my strength and technique,” she says. “There’s nothing like finally completing a route that I’ve been working on. It’s also really great for my mental health. When I’m climbing, there’s no room in my head for anything else. It takes away all worry and anxiety.”
Everyone could use an escape from the news of the day. Even though life is simpler in many ways now, it is still busy and most lack the time or money to travel for new adventures.
“Wilmington Rock Gym gives people a convenient place to train, find belay partners, learn new skills, and set up trips with knowledgeable instructors,” Olson says. “For example, we offer gym to rock classes to help people gain the expertise necessary to set up top ropes and hit the mountains.”
Climbing requires trust because you have to be able to know that your belayer is going to catch you, acting as a catalyst for close friendships, she says.
“Everyone in the gym is very supportive of one another. More experienced climbers will frequently help those who are just starting out,” Olsen says. “We always cheer each other on and celebrate one another’s progress. It’s really special to see so many people doing something they love together.”
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
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