Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A rock climbing story

BY: Lily Heritage

I hate working out. Running on a treadmill surrounded by a bunch of sweaty strangers is not fun. But you know what is fun? Rock climbing. It’s a sport! There’s also a gym just for rock climbing in Tulsa! Don’t be embarrassed if you didn’t know that; I didn’t either.

Climb Tulsa is a relatively new gym in Midtown Tulsa, and it’s fancier than you’d expect for a rock gym. There’s different levels of climbing routes (which is perfect for newbies like myself), and kind staff that show you the ropes (literally). However, not everyone is an amateur.

Hayden Ledford, 10th grader at Jenks, is a part of the gym’s competitive climbing team. He and his team go to competitions in and out of state.

“It’s a really complex sport. It’s actually kind of like three sports,” Ledford explains.

He goes on to tell about the three “disciplines” of rock climbing: lead climbing, speed climbing, and bouldering. Lead climbing is where you’re attached to a rope, and you have to fasten that rope to clips that run up the wall, so you don’t die when you fall. Sounds reasonable to me. Speed climbing is self explanatory, you just climb the route as fast as possible. The last kind of climb is bouldering, where you aren’t attached to anything because you’re only climbing about 20ft. If you fall, you fall on a very squishy crash pad.

Ledford and his teammates train for competitions with the third kind of climbing: bouldering.

“It depends on the day, but you’re either doing strength training or working on your technique,” Ledford says. “So whenever you’re working on your technique, you’d be placing your foot on intricate footholds, and strength training is more like ‘what’s the smallest hold you can get your hands on.’”

Ledford explained that you can’t be a good climber if you don’t have technique, even if you have the strength aspect.

I can attest to this. I tried out the gym myself, and climbing is a very strategic sport. Even on the easy routes that I did, I had to strategize almost every step (with the guidance of Ledford). I worked out muscles I didn’t even know I had. It was, as Ledford told me, a thrill.

“If you’re really adventurous and like the outdoors then I think you should definitely give rock climbing a go. It’s going to be in the 2020 Olympics, so you don’t want to miss it.”

Give the gym a try! It’s free for first timers on Fridays! If you want more information about Climb Tulsa, visit their website at

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