Exploring the climbing scene at SFU

The secret to a great performance could lie in your routine

Geoff Arrowsmith propels up a rock climbing wall.
A close look at an SFU climber’s routines, superstitions, and rituals. Ken Chow Photography

By: Vanshita Sethi, SFU Student

Geoff Arrowsmith is a climber at SFU. Arrowsmith has spent six years rock and boulder climbing and two years competing in  provincial and regional competitions. Among his many achievements is his staggering record of 10.3 seconds in speed climbing.

When asked about the difficulty of speed climbing, Arrowsmith described the challenge lies in finding the right coach, since there are only a handful of walls in BC where speed climbing can be done. The inspiring climber has competed in international competitions like The North American Cup Series. Held in Richmond, BC, on October 10, 2021, Arrowsmith was able to make it to the finals.

While climbing requires speed and movements, some athletes also believe in securing their chances of winning by following a pre-game ritual or routine. Superstitions allow an athlete to keep up with a routine, believing there is a “luck” factor involved. It also creates a routine which can help an athlete become game ready. Arrowsmith follows a simple routine of warming up for 15 minutes, going through the motions of the climb in his mind, and practicing moves on a wall, to develop fluidity in his movements. 

When asked about common superstitions, Arrowsmith shared some players prefer to wear specific shoes. He also added since the pressure of replicating a perfect run up the wall is immense, there are climbers who step a certain way on the wall with their shoe or leave a chalk mark with their hand on a specific part of the wall to calm their nerves. 

While some settle for a more intricate preparation, Arrowsmith explained different shoes — casual, beginner, and aggressive — can affect his performance while climbing; however, he believes one can climb just as fast and skillfully without these tactics. 

Superstitions or not, climbing is a game of sheer strength and skill. Going forward, Arrowsmith is trying to bring a high performance training team to SFU, to replace the one in place before COVID-19. He is positive the inclusion of climbing in the Olympics will lead to an influx of more and more people opting for the sport.