Audrey Tubbs climbs on


A puzzle. Tedious and difficult, filled with fractions of colors and missing pieces. Edges first are easiest; work from the outside in. 1000 pieces ruined when you clear the table for dinner. Start again tomorrow. A puzzle.

A problem. Exhilarating and difficult, filled with colored rocks showing different paths, changing every few weeks. Some paths are easier; work from the bottom to the top. A hand slips, and a rope catches you. Start again from the bottom. A problem.

Senior Audrey Tubbs takes on the second type of puzzle- the more mentally challenging- with courage and skill. Rock Climbing.

“There wasn’t really much going on so I said “Hey, I kind of want to go climbing,’ Audrey said. “I really enjoyed it, and I just kept going back.”

From that day on, Audrey was hooked. At first, she was going once or twice a week, but that soon escalated into almost every day. Once she started becoming a regular so to speak, Audrey began to see great improvements in her abilities.

Typically, Audrey climbs at Higher Grounds in downtown Grand Rapids, which is an indoor spot. She has been able to climb right into the community there and met lots of people that have pushed her to go further– especially in the style of climbing called bouldering.

Bouldering is a style of climbing with shorter walls and no harness. It usually involves a few very difficult moves instead of a long climb.

Audrey has taken on outdoor climbs as well.

“Outdoor is a whole different game,” Audrey said. “It’s more of your perception– what you see.”

When inside, different colored rocks mean different paths you can take, each with a different difficulty level. But outside, even with a general route given to you, there are plenty of different paths you can take to get to the top.

“There are some times I will go up and get stuck and not be able to complete [the climb],” Audrey said. “But that’s always good because you know what you need to improve and work on.”

Even though Audrey hasn’t been climbing for long, she has become hooked and aspires to take on even bigger climbs in national parks such as Yosemite. She also plans to climb for as long as possible. Climbing is unlike other sorts, where people faze out after their early years. To climb all you need is a state of mind, some calluses, and the ability to push yourself further.

“I’ve seen a lot of 70-year-olds climbing so I hope I’m climbing in the future as well,” Audrey said.