May 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm EDT | by Kevin Majoros
Rock steady

Chris Gorham at the Homo Climbtastic convention in Bishop, Calif. (Photo by Tim Kettering)

Being out in nature can be a peaceful experience and can bring a sense of calm for most people.

Being out in nature can also be a heart thumping experience depending on what you have chosen to do with your time with Mother Nature.

I once put in four days of climbing on the Appalachian Trail in the Shenandoah Valley. Considering how many rock faces I fell off during one particularly rainy day, I could have benefited by spending some time with Rainbow Climbing D.C.

This LGBT rock climbing group is a relatively new entity under the Team D.C. umbrella. Led by Chris Gorham, its members can usually be found at Earth Treks in Rockville on Tuesday and Thursday nights and sometimes on weekends. For beginners, this would be a great place to start. The club has no member dues, but the climbing fees at Earth Treks run around $20.

Rainbow Climbing D.C. has hosted two local outdoor climbs recently in Carderock, Md. The site is located on the Potomac and there is climbing available on both sides of the river. Carderock offers four top rope climbs and is a great place for beginners to try outdoor rock climbing.  Gorham says it’s also a great place to hang out and the group will be planning another trip to Carderock soon.

As is the case with all the local LGBT sports clubs, there is a national organization that helps network the athletes. In rock climbing, it’s Homo Climbtastic. Its people help LGBT climbers and their local clubs connect with other climbers and clubs. Its website is also a public blog I found pretty entertaining ( or on Facebook).

Homo Climbtastic also hosts two climbs annually and taut those as the worlds largest queer-friendly climbing conventions. Gorham just returned from the most recent convention in Bishop, Calif. One of the attractions in Bishop were two multi-pitch lead climbs with vertical elevations of 120 to 200 feet.

The next Homo Climbtastic convention will be held from July 14-18 at New River Gorge in Fayetteville, W.V. New River Gorge is the most popular rock climbing and rappelling destination in the eastern United States. Also located nearby is Summersville Lake which is a 28,000 acre body of water known nationwide for its variety of sports attractions.

At the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, sport climbing was one of the sports contested. While Cleveland/Akron has not announced its sports for 2014, there is a good possibility that sport climbing will be on the list. Sport climbing is a style of rock climbing wherein a climber ascends a route that already has permanent bolts and anchors attached on the rock wall.

Sport climbing is considered the safest style of climbing because the climber is able to clip to the bolts which are generally 8 feet apart. The chance of falling is greatly diminished. Since the element of danger is reduced, sport climbing emphasizes the gymnastic and athletic aspects of climbing. It focuses on the development of the climber’s stamina, strength and flexibility.

According to Gorham, the best way to catch the rock climbing vibe is to put yourself out there in different locales with different climbers. Besides the group’s usual climbing at Earth Treks and the occasional Carderock trip, the climbers will also be at Sport Rock in Alexandria on May 20. For more information, find the group on Facebook under Rainbow Climbing D.C.

  • Just to clarify, there are at least fifty routes at Carderock that you can do top rope or traditional climbing. There is no sport leading there. Also top rope would be the safest way to climb.

    The Rainbow Climbers are awesome. I’m a local rock Climbing Meetup host and I enjoy partnering with the group. On the 20th we have a shared event at Earth Treks at 7:30 PM.

  • Hey this is Chris Gorham I hope you are inspired to check out climbing now. It is a sport that beginners and experts can really enjoy, both Earth Treks and Sportrock are really friendly and fun atmospheres to get started. Rainbow Climbing has contacted the main office for Earth Treks and we were able to get discounted day passes at the gym for people if you mention you are with Rainbow Climbing and show up at 7:30PM. If you need more information please get in touch via the group page, and/or call Earth Treks Rockville at 1-800-CLIMB-UP. Climbers of all abilities(or none at all) are welcome!

  • Since this article was published, I met up with Chris Gorham (Rainbow climbers) and Jennifer (VA/MD/DC rock climbers meetup) for climbs at Earth Treks in Rockville and at Sportrock in Alexandria. I’m a beginner climber and these groups are a friendly group of people that enjoy teaching you climbing tips. Rock climbing is a great workout, good times, and a great way to make friends in a positive setting. I can’t wait until their next meetup!

    DC Rainbow Climbing group:

    VA/MD/DC meetup group, straight but LGBT friendly:

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