Holiday Gift Ideas for Rock Climbers
by Christopher Schafenacker
If you or a loved one has experimented with rock climbing, you know the activity is all-consuming and highly addictive. Climbers are into climbing the way plants are into sunlight: they literally live off it. So, finding a holiday gift for your beloved climber is easy-peasy. The list is endless; your only dilemma is deciding where you want your giving to register on the grade scale.
The 5.15d of Climber Gifts
Rarer than a golden goose egg, there are only two 5.15ds in the world, and they were put up by climbing’s golden geese, themselves: Adam Ondra and Alex Megos. Accordingly, a 5.15d gift is the stuff of dreams:
1. A Freestanding Home Climbing Wall
The gold standard of home training devices, a woody (as home walls are colloquially known) allows for customized workout plans and unlimited climbing for the true junkie or training fanatic. While the traditional woody is hammered together in your BFFs garage with borrowed tools and salvaged plywood, a 15d premium model like the kind we’re talking about spares no detail. The 40° Rocket Wall XL, for instance, is built with Baltic Birch plywood, known for its strength, durability, and attractive finish and arrives with 224 T-nuts pre-installed providing near-unlimited setting potential. What’s more, the dimensions can be customized to fit your space!
Go for broke and take advantage of the opportunity to pair any purchase of a Rocket Wall with an Asana crash pad so that your gift is session-ready the moment it’s opened. Tack on a full set of Kilter holds, and we promise you’ll be as much the legend as Ondra or Megos in the eyes of your climber.
2. An All-Expenses Paid Trip to Chullilla, Spain
Among the most beautiful climbing areas in Europe, Chulilla is a must-visit for anyone who dreams of going hands free on sinker knee-bars and sipping tinto de verano on warm Spanish nights. Book comfy digs at el Altico, the full-amenities local climber hostel, stoke the psych with a copy of the guidebook, and pair the gift with a 100m Petzl Volta ultra-light rope because you’re gonna need one when you’re standing at the base of a 50m pump-fest like your Yankee forearms have never seen. If travel isn’t back online for the spring season, book ahead to next winter and give your climber something to train for.
The 5.13-5.14 Local Pro-Level Gift
Every crag has got one: that lithe, muscled crusher who warms up on your proj, gets free quickdraws, and rolls up with an adorable rescue pup that somehow also seems cooler than you. These are her counterparts, in holiday gift form:
Be sure to always have the best spot at the camp fire with this collapsible, easy-to-assemble couch that works with most tri-fold crash pads. When you’re not camped out at the Red or celebrating Creeksgiving at, well, Indian Creek, this baby is also a perfect complement to your home training set-up. Everyone needs a spot to chill between burns, after all.
Made of high-quality, exterior-grade birch ply and sanded to a smooth finish, the crash couch is both durable and stylish. What’s more, it packs flat so it won’t take up much space if, in fact, your climber dropped their life savings on #vanlife and now lives in a space no bigger than a tipped-over phone booth.
Looking to be extra? Pair the crash couch with an Asana crash pad and really make your climber’s eyes pop!
The Subaru of climbing packs (and my not-being-paid to say this personal favorite), the Trango Crag Pack 2.0 provides all the features you need and none that you don’t at a more-than-reasonable price. What’s more, it doubles as a haul bag and thus provides your climber a crucial piece of gear for their life-long dream of scaling El Cap. Best of all, the Crag Pack 2.0 arrives with 25 Access Fund wag bags so recipients of the gift don’t end up leaving any unwanted gifts of their own for those who come after them.
Looking to be extra? Load the bag up with smaller gifts (see below) and give your climber all they need to keep the psych running hot all through the long Covid winter.
The 5.11-5.12 Fanatic Grade Gifts
This is the sweet spot: 5.11 or 5.12 is plenty strong to impress friends and win Insta followers…but you don’t need to quit your job to get there. These gifts are of the same ilk: on the wish list of any serious convert to the climbing cult and a necessary tool for the aspiring local pro.
1. A Wooden Hangboard (With Radiused Holds)
While Megos has often been sighted hanging one-armed off the industry-leading Beastmaker 2000, a locally-made wooden hangboard like ours arrives at a fraction of the price and offers equal (if not greater) training possibilities—especially for those who can hardly hang one-armed off a bar, much less the 1" center edge of the Beastmaker.
2. A Portable Fingerboard
You’ve heard that a 5.12 climber should warm up at 5.11 but what about a 5.15 climber? Does Ondra really hike up a 5.14 before hopping on his latest mega proj? No. He gets the blood running in his fingers by clipping a portable fingerboard to a first bolt and busting out a few easy hangs before blasting his way to the chains. Get your climber the gift of looking like a pro as they tick the local testpieces by putting a Maverick under the tree and, if you’re feeling generous, a pinch block to complete their set up.
The 5.9+ Warm-Up Gift
The 5.9+ warmup gift is the stocking stuffer of gifts for rock climbers. The following suggestions are the jug-haul joyride of stocking stuffers for rock climbers:
If you thought elite climbers were but bundles of tendon and testosterone, this book proves you wrong. Caldwell tells a sensitive, enthralling story that is both all-too-human and altogether astonishing. Read it and you might just discover what your climber means when their eyes glaze over and they insist there’s something transcendent about the sport.
2. climbOn Lotion Bar
A spa visit in a can, climbOn is the climber’s go-to salve for persistent splits or bleeding-thin tips. Pair this with a cuticle trimmer and finger file and your climber will never again have to take an unwanted rest day due to blasted skin.
3. A Climber’s Coupon Book
Been dirt-bagging so hard this year that Christmas is gonna have to be consumption-free? Longing for the good-ole days when climbers were poor, anti-capitalist crusaders camped out in Yosemite Valley? Bring back the spirit with a homemade coupon book offering those things ever climber truly dreams of: infinite patient belays, indulgent back massages, pre-hung draws, and burritos at the crag (among many other simple things).
In a year that has been tough on climbers, we hope this list brings joy and sparks the psych for 2021. Happy holidays and best wishes from the folks at Rockstar Volumes!
Featured Climbing Training Gear
*NEW* The Rocketeer Wall: our free-standing adjustable solution for those who can’t mount a hangboard anywhere in their home or apartment—or who are limited on space. The Rocketeer gives climbers the additional option to set specific climbing holds. Recreate the crux holds of your proj and get ready to send, bruh.
The Rocket Wall: Available in 6’ and 8’ widths, it’s been tough for us to keep up with the demand for this innovative home climbing wall solution. Slightly overhanging, the Rocket Wall is big enough to set routes on, or to build a systems board.
The Rock-Stah: Our handcrafted version of a traditional hangboard, with curving crimp rails to help alleviate unnecessary strain on your pulleys. Because ain’t no one got time for a finger injury…
Christopher Schafenacker started climbing in Western MA before moving to Granada, Spain, where he now writes, climbs, and runs education-centered training camps for competitive youth climbing teams.