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Small Town Roots - Erica Carlson

Small Town Roots - Erica Carlson
Small Town Roots - Erica Carlson
Small Town Roots - Erica Carlson
Small Town Roots - Erica Carlson
March 03, 2013 -  Erica Carlson    

Every once in a while, you get writer’s block. You just don’t know what to write about. I was feeling that a while back so reached out to some friends looking for help with a topic. A friend that I first started climbing with back in Winnipeg, Manitoba suggested I write about my early days and transitioning from going from a smaller competition scene to being one of the top Canadian climbers now.

As I’ve suggested so far, originally I wasn’t from Calgary, Alberta... I was from the flat of the flatlands, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Everyone always asks how I managed to find myself an avid climber of all things. Years ago, a friend and I tried it at a camp, both fell head over heels and started heading to the local gym... Vertical Adventures. I quickly got involved with the gym and even managed to get a job the same day that I took my first belay course!

I fell so in love with climbing that traveling back from a comp in Calgary, I decided I was going to move west after finishing school... And blurted this out to my friends who I was traveling with. Needless to say, since I knew a grand total of 4 people in Calgary and had only been there three times, no one believed me.

Six months later, my bags and boxes were packed and I was making the move! When I first got to Calgary, I was confident I was going to be one of the top girls despite having gotten my butt handed to me at an earlier comp hosted by the Calgary Climbing Centre. Reality decided to teach me a lesson and show me quickly that I wasn’t one of the top girls in Calgary. At least not yet.

Although transitioning to climbing in a way larger and way tougher field was rough on my ego at first, it has been great for my climbing. In Winnipeg, I’d always climbed and trained with the boys. Which was great for learning power and dynamic, but lets face it... There’s some things us girls do better and technical climbing is one of them! Getting introduced to some of the strongest climbers in Western Canada was a great way to get a better balance of burl and technique.

Really, when you think about it, the scene from ‘small town’ to big city isn’t really that different. You’re always going to have your front runners that are ahead of everyone else by just that little bit. There’s the ‘newbies’ that are just psyched to be a part of something so awesome. And, there’s everyone in between that makes climbing what the great sport it is.

My advice to anyone climbing in a ‘small town’ gym is not to set yourself limits. We all enjoy our little boxes but sometimes breaking out of those can be the best decision you ever make. Don’t get stuck in a groove that tells you it’s not possible to climb as hard as the top guns because you don’t have the same equipment and the same tools. Create your own tools. Use your imagination to build your own training equipment. Take the initiative.

Going from the background to the main stage can be scary, and you’ll probably get beat down a time or two (trust me, I did). Just keep getting back up and remembering why you love this sport so much and what YOU want out of it.


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