The skinniest Boy Scout in his troop, 11-year-old Jody Miall stared longingly up at a rock-climbing wall dotted with fellow scouts. His scoutmaster had told him he was too light too climb, condemning him to the sidelines during the troop’s overnight rock-climbing trip. But when the rest of the group snuggled into sleeping bags, Jody snuck back into the gym and completed more successful climbs than the rest of the boys had, before his Scoutmaster discovered him and promptly kicked him out of Boy Scouts. Jody hasn’t stopped climbing since.
The ambitious kid moved on to compete nationally, placing fourth in North America, and is the official route setter for the Tour de Bloc. Now, Jody welcomes climbers of all ages and sizes into his gym. Meeting new climbers "takes me back to when I was 12, and just learning,” he says, noting that blind and acrophobic climbers have successfully scaled the gym’s 15,000 square feet of wall space. Jody attributes transformations such as these to Coyote Rock Gym’s impassioned instructors, who stay with climbers until they feel confident to explore the 35 different top ropes and four bouldering areas. He also says the noncompetitive environment stems from the communal nature of rock climbing itself: beginners may find themselves climbing—and struggling—alongside climbers such as instructor and National Team climber Yves Gravelle. “It’s the same feeling, whether you just started or have been climbing for 20 years,” Jody says. “Even when you’re good, your hands hurt just the same.”