Monday, March 5, 2012

DC Tribute: Earth Treks Rockville

Climbers are keenly aware of the best places to live to support their life style.  There's Boulder in Colorado with it's many crags and 14'ners; Southern California with it's fair weather and sun-drenched granite; and Salt Lake City, UT with its backyard of desert walls.  However, beyond these obvious climbing centers, there are many unsung locales that harbor all of the basic ingredients, just on a smaller scale.  Some make up for that scale with other, less obvious ingredients--ingredients that combine in unexpected, yet fortuitous ways.  It's like arugula on pizza.  With a squeeze of lemon, and a compliment of prosciutto, you have an unexpected masterpiece.  That's DC.  Its vertical assets are modest, but the way they combine is exquisite.

This will be the first post of many that will identify and honor DC's finest ingredients.

1. Earth Trek's Rockville

When they opened the expansion this new year, I felt how I imagine you would feel if your company went public and you became a millionaire over night.    ET Rockville is now the largest climbing gym in the country, and 20% larger than the 2nd largest.  The expansion offers the Gnarwall, which overhangs as far as it is tall; the Death Star, a floating planet of a top-out boulder; the Reactor Wall, which looks is like climbing the outside of a cooling tower; 5 cracks (yes, I'm including the off-width curtain slot in the new birthday area); an upgraded work out room; and a yoga room.  The gym single-handedly quashed this military brat's impulse to move every few years.

Just a corner of the new gym.
Here's to the route-setters: to Skilla for his bounty of quality, flowing routes; to Dickey for his damning cruxes; and JK for finding ways to make large holds utterly useless.

Here's to the Roadies and Road instructors who would all have bright futures in alpinism given their predilection for suffering.  I'm with you, but enough plank already.

Here's to the staff who wear their calves on their forearms, and campus more naturally than they walk.

Here's to the kids on the climbing team who hike my projects mid adolescent hormonal spew of gossip, texts, and posturing; who remind me that I could barely do a pullup at that age; who make me wish I found climbing much, much earlier.

Here's to the members who make the place feel like a second home.  I'm constantly impressed by how hard you pull after a full day of keeping government secrets, and saving the world.  That's right.  I'm on to you.  I know you're all spooks.

Earth Treks Rockville

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