This past April, another new sports league climbed into the mix of the LGBT sports community in Washington. Stonewall Climbing D.C. is utilizing the template set up by Stonewall Sports which promotes an active lifestyle, local community engagement and a safe space for the LGBT and allied community to play sports.
While there are other social LGBT rock climbing groups in the area, Stonewall Climbing is using a competitive team format and tapping the social networking base of Stonewall Sports to draw new climbers.
Bryan Yamasaki and Brinda Dass had already been climbing competitively on their own and the timing to launch the league fit in perfectly with Team D.C.’s bid for the 2022 Gay Games.
“There will be no rock climbing at the Paris 2018 Gay Games because there was no ‘go to’ person in the area,” Yamasaki says. “We took it upon ourselves to make sure that the sport will be represented as part of the Team D.C. bid.”
Rock climbing debuted at the Cologne 2010 Gay Games and was also a part of the Cleveland 2014 Gay Games where Yamasaki won two medals.
The new Stonewall Climbing league is a nine-week handicap program consisting of six teams with six climbers. They meet on Tuesdays from 7-10 p.m. at Earth Treks Crystal City.
They have been adding tweaks to the format as the season progresses with the handicap system allowing climbers to compete on an equal level based on their grade.
“A climber’s grade will change as they progress and new people will have a higher rate of progression. This will encourage captains to be looking for new talent each season,” Yamasaki says. “With this handicap system, I am climbing at the same level as a new climber.”
At each session, the top five highest scores per person on each team are compared and then the highest three ranking members are submitted as the team score for placement.
This season and next season is utilizing the bouldering discipline of rock climbing with several types of surfaces ranging from 10-15 feet high. There are no ropes; safety mats and padding are used to break falls.
Yamasaki says one of his goals in the first season has been to make sure the climbers are having fun. His interest in the sport is continually fulfilled by the personal challenges that it presents.
“What you are climbing is a giant puzzle that you are trying to solve,” he says. “If the route you choose doesn’t work out, then you look for a better path on the next attempt.”
Registration for Stonewall Climbing’s next season will open in August and the season will begin the Tuesday following Labor Day.