Climbing for Body and Mind 4

The Hangar 18 Experience

Whether it’s a smooth granite boulder or a volcanic craggy monolith, Byron Shumpert has been scaling rock faces since the early 90’s. Over the past few decades, Shumpert has constructed rock climbing gyms across the U.S. and one in Germany. Shumpert is now co-owner of the bouldering gym, Hangar 18, located at 1031 Calle Trepadora.

“Rock climbing works every single muscle in the body,” says Shumpert. “It increases balance, strength, and agility while motivating and encouraging the mind to think ahead and solve problems.”

Ten Hangar 18 gyms are scattered throughout southern California, a membership at one gains access to all. The San Clemente location is undoubtedly Shumpert’s “man cave.” He designed its interior, calculated the wall angles, and then built the structure. Shumpert reaps the benefits of his hard work by regularly climbing there as well as assisting clients in learning the various techniques.

Climbing at Hangar 18 does not involve much equipment. The special shoes and chalk needed are on site to rent or buy. First timers are required to take a half hour safety/instructional class prior to hitting the walls. Day passes and monthly memberships are both available. Purchasing a monthly membership to climb includes a yoga class on Tuesday night and a core strength class on Thursday. All you need to show up with is a desire to explore and push your personal limits.

Weekly, Shumpert and his skilled employees set new routes on the walls. After posting these on social media, men, women, and children flock to Hangar 18. They stand back from the wall, assess the challenges, and then pounce on a route. The routes are a color coded system. Plastic tags are inserted next to the starting holds naming each route and listing its rate of difficulty. If you start with a green hold, you follow the pattern of green holds to the top then climb back down. Shumpert stresses the importance of the down climb because due to the resistance factor, climbing down works muscles in reverse and increases strength. This echoes an integral life lesson: it’s not only the going up which matters, but how we make it back down.

Shumpert possesses an extreme exuberance for the sport of climbing. His passion is contagious when watching his interaction with other climbers at Hangar 18.

“I especially enjoy sharing knowledge and working with the younger kids,” says Shumpert. “Climbing keeps people physically fit but it also improves how our minds operate. Each climb has its own individual path. If one doesn’t work, we’re inspired to look for and find alternate solutions. When people successfully top out on a route, their eyes light up and it’s cool to see and feel their sense of accomplishment.”

Each climb has its own individual path. If one doesn’t work, we’re inspired to look for and find alternate solutions.