Billings, Mont. – I’ve been drawn to the sport of rock climbing ever since I was a little kid, but it wasn’t until I moved to Montana in 2008 that I started to identify myself as a climber.
I attribute this to easy access of the sandstone rims in my backyard, but it was also due to the point I was at in life. I was a young professional and, for the first time in a loooooong time, I had the freedom to use my nights and weekends for play. I didn’t have homework or tests to study for and I didn’t have to work an extra job or two in my “time off” to cover the cost of school and life. I had a brand new sense of freedom and I was eager to take advantage of it.
Prior to moving to Billings, I was encouraged by a climber friend to join the local climbing gym when I got to Montana. He said, “You’ll find a great community there and you’ll meet new friends.” He’d never been to Billings’ climbing gym before; he just knew. And he was so right.
I met some local climbers (one of whom became my husband six years later) and joined SteepWorld. Every Monday night, a big group of us would gather at the gym for some climbing and socializing. We’d climb other nights during the week, but we’d always be there Monday night. This was my new social life – and I loved it! To this day, I can credit my core group of girlfriends to a connection through SteepWorld.
Located in the “industrial park” of Billings, SteepWorld opened in 2005 offering 2,500 square feet of climbing. With rock climbing growing in popularity, more space was in high demand. Meeting these needs, the owner, Jim Rott, more than doubled the size of the gym and added an area for weight lifting. SteepWorld now offers a spacious environment with 3,500 square feet of climbing, welcoming people of all ages, sizes and abilities. Whether you’re looking to escape the snowy, cold winter or beat the summer heat when the south-facing rimrocks are getting baked by the afternoon sun, the Billings gym serves as a haven for rock climbers year round.
Like SteepWorld, I too have changed and evolved over the years. I’ve gone from being a single gal, to becoming a wife and now a mom. While I’ve loved every moment of this evolution, life has definitely changed and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t climb nearly as often as I’d like to. I find myself saying, “we’ll make it to the gym next week…” far too often. However, when the stars align and we are able to spend a hour or two at the gym – with a baby in tow – it’s so refreshing and reignites my passion for this sport.
That is what I love about climbing. No matter how long my hiatus has been, the wall always welcomes me back. My strength may take awhile to rebuild, but that sense of feeling “at home” on the wall remains constant.
Therefore, I think I’ll always consider myself a climber. 🙂