Rock climbing grows in popularity
Climbing in the Wasatch dates back to the 1930s, when Pete O’Dell teamed up with members of the Wasatch Mountain Club and, using old-style gear for protection along with their hiking boots, headed into crack systems throughout Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.
Climbing has come a long way since then. Now, climbers have well-designed climbing shoes and precise gear to ascend almost any kind of rock.
Climbing is a rapidly growing sport in many parts of the world and Utah is becoming a preferred destination for climbers. Nearly every canyon lining the Wasatch front has a different type of rock, some of which are extremely high quality. This makes for a different experience every time one decides to take their ropes up to a local crag. When done safely, it can be a great way to have fun with friends.
Summit County is seeing some growth in the sport. In the last few years, a bouldering gym called The Mine opened in Kimball Junction and the Psicobloc wall at the Utah Olympic Park became accessible to the public.
Andy Jacobsen, who founded The Mine with a friend two and a half years ago, has watched different crowds come into the gym at different times of the year.
"During the summer we get more of the locals coming in," he said. "In the winter, business changes quite a bit. There’s an awesome population of outdoorsy youth here and they’re naturally gravitated towards sports like rock climbing. A lot of them are actually skiers. They ski all day and they come in and climb at night."
Jacobsen said there are similarities between climbing and skiing. Certain elements of rock climbing overlap with the snow sports popular in Park City.
"There are a lot of similar challenges, and the same style of adventure," he said.
"Park City is being more and more introduced to climbing through The Mine and Psicobloc up at the UOP. We have kids that come into the gym now that get psyched cause they saw Psicobloc."
"Psicobloc" is a term used for what is also known as deep-water soloing; a type of climbing that is typically performed with no ropes or equipment other than climbing shoes and a chalk bag.
Utah Olympic Park annually holds a Psicobloc Master Series competition that anybody can compete in. This year, the qualifiers will be held on Aug. 3.
The wall is also open to the public all summer, so interested climbers can come experience what the pros experience in early August.
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