Building Community through Climbing

Climbing at N3C. Photo courtesy North Country Climbing Center.

Rock climbing can be an intimidating sport. Aside from inspiring fear, the act of clinging to a wall, the jargon, bravado, and habits of many climbers can make the sport seem exclusive, or at least limited to those quite possibly clinically insane. Those entering North Country Climbing Center – or N3C as it’s affectionately known – will find a more inclusive community that just happens to spend a lot of time off the ground.

For an ever-growing group of devotees to the North Country’s outdoor scene, N3C in Lisbon has become the de facto meeting place and jumping off point for adventures near and afar. Many, if not most, of my closest friendships were forged through time spent at the rock gym (confidence in your belayer when working a tricky new route may be the ultimate trust fall). Along with honing our skills on the wall, collectively we’ve shared in our discovery of the community and culture within the region.

Adaptive climbing at N3C.

Within the gym, N3C strikes a balance between entertaining its more regular members with advanced clinics and competitions while a medley of kids’ camps and youth programs, yoga classes, and intro to climbing classes keep the gym accessible to novices and newcomers alike. The gym also offers adaptive climbing programs in partnership with Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country, a local non-profit that provides sport and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities. But for N3C owner Rusty Talbot, the aim of his gym goes far beyond activities on the wall.

“The goal is really to bring people together to do fun things, whether that’s a movie night or a potluck,” says Talbot. The climbing gym has also played host to more professional endeavors, such as hosting Business After Hours in coordination with the Littleton Chamber of Commerce and a networking and climbing party for North of the Notch Young Professionals Network.

Climber friends at a holiday potluck. Photo courtesy SLC Photography.

Beyond climbing, Talbot hopes to build a community where people are connected for their outdoor pursuits, whether in the gym or beyond. “If someone has an idea for an adventure they’re trying to plan, be that a hike, a ski tour, a climb, or whatever, they can find a partner or group to join them,” he explains.

True to form, our group of climber friends will often find each other throughout the North Country on a hike, floating on the Moore Reservoir, schussing down Cannon’s ski trails, or celebrating the day at a dinner party. But we’ll be back pulling plastic at N3C tomorrow.

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