Climbing and music seem to go together really well. You like the dubstep or other upbeat tunes the gyms play, and the music in climbing videos can make or break the video experience for you. Music is important and enjoyable. However, before you go loading the boom box up with batteries or charging up the IPOD with speakers to get ready for your trip to the local crag, there are some things to consider.
First of all, it is important to remember that people often live around crags. This is why access issues are tough. There are some climber friendly people willing to open their land, but there are also some people who aren’t too psyched to see cars piling up in front of their houses and climbers overtaking their backyards. Many of them deal with it; some more reluctantly than others. Listening to your music blasting through their windows when they are trying to enjoy a peaceful weekend of laying around the house, spending time with family, or whatever non climbers do, is not going to go over well. When people are pushed too much, they might stop dealing and areas could get closed.
If you aren’t surrounded by homes at your local crag, it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone around will be cool with your music. Some people really love the sounds and lack of sounds associated with nature. They may be climbing or hiking too, but it doesn’t mean they want their time disrupted. Sometimes its nice to get away from all the noise.
If your crag isn’t close to people and you don’t care what other climber’s think, it still doesn’t make music a great idea. Music can make it hard to hear communication with each other and when climbing outside communication, can be more important. There was one time I was sport climbing a route that started overhanging and then went into slab. When at the slab part, the belayer could no longer see me and I couldn’t see them. It made nonverbal communication impossible. People nearby were blasting music and that made verbal communication impossible. This made for the scariest climb ever. When I was cleaning the anchor, there was no way to let me belayer know if I was on or off belay because she couldn’t hear at all. I was stuck up there for a long time trying to think of how I could communicate through tugging the rope and if I could pull myself down until safely to where I could see her.
This might sound like it falls into the other climber category, but when I looked over one of the people in the music group was freaking out because she was in the same position with her belayer. People need to be able to hear their climbing partners and loud music can disrupt that.
Then there is always the fact that it disrupts nature. Now music doesn’t have to be banned from the crag. It just needs to be done right. Bring headphones to psych yourself with music before a climb, or during if you have your signs set up with a belayer. Get a solid pre climb mix to play in the car heading up to the crag. Or cautiously and lightly play your music at the crag. We don’t all have to hear it, just you and your little group. As long as it isn’t disrupting nature and those around you.