CELEBRATING THE PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE OF TETON CLIMBING

Contact Us: (307) 690-1561

Monthly Archives: March 2021

Winter Speaker Series Recordings Released

Over three months this winter, The TCC held three episodes of its Winter Speaker Series, which was designed to provide the Teton climbing community a chance to “gather” in the midst of the pandemic.

On January 21, Carlos Carsolio, the first North American to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks, shared his adventures on the highest mountains in the world. The recording of his presentation, which begins at Minute 49, may be found here.

On Feb. 18, George Lowe, Michael Kennedy and Michael Gardner made a blended presentation of climbing one of the great lines in world mountaineering: Alaska’s Infinite Spur. Their presentation, which begins at Minute 43, may be found here.

On Thursday, March 11, Babsi Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher recounted their efforts to free climb the Eiger’s hardest route, the 33-pitch, 5.13c Odyssee—in a day. Their presentation, which begins around Minute 18, may be found here.

The series was sponsored by the Hatchet ResortBlack DiamondTeton MountaineeringSkinny Skis, Alpinist Magazine, Arc’Teryx, Access Fund, and The American Alpine Club, in collaboration with Coombs Outdoors and the Jackson Hole High School Mountaineering Club. 

We are particularly indebted to Heather Distad, the Events and Outreach Manager for Access Fund, who helped us run the speaker series, which we did on the Access Fund zoom account. We honestly couldn’t have done this without her help. And the Access Fund has been critical to our launch as a local climbing org. In addition to helping us with our stewardship project on Rodeo Wall last summer, they’ve been an incredible resource and assistance to us as we’ve gotten off the ground.

 If you’re not a member yet of the Access Fund, we’d encourage you to join. If you’re here in the Teton area, $15 of your membership will go directly to the TCC. Since we don’t have any money, that would be wonderfully helpful.

Write a Letter of Support for the Rec Center Gym

Dear Teton Climber,

In the November 2019 election, Teton County voters approved $22,000,000, via the SPET initiative’s Proposition #9, for an expansion of the Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center.  

This expansion includes a community climbing gym. Town and county decision makers are now making final decisions about various elements of the gym, including its size.

The Teton Climbers Coalition (TCC) is advocating for adequate space in the gym to meet our community’s needs. Current plans for the gym call for ca. 9,000 square feet overall, including restrooms and check-in desks. This translates to roughly 7,000 square feet of climbing area. 

The Enclosure Climbing Gym, which closed in 2014, had 10,000 square feet of climbing area. It also had 700 annual members, and 50-100 people in the facility at any given time.

Given the increase in Teton County’s population and in climbing’s popularity, as well as the number of users a public facility—particularly one located close to downtown tourist traffic—will attract, it is safe to assume the Rec Center climbing gym will have more users than The Enclosure did.

For this reason, the TCC is advocating for a MINIMUM of 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of climbing area.

To demonstrate that there is community support for a climbing gym with sufficient space, TCC is soliciting letters from folks like you: family members, businesses, non-profits, and local climbers. 

Hence, we ask that you please take a minute, draw on the boilerplate text below (or use these key takeaways to compose your your own letter), and express your support for the gym in writing. Please send your letter on your letterhead to info@tetonclimbers.com.  

The TCC will compile all letters received and share them with Teton County Parks and Rec, as well as Town and County elected officials. 

Please dash off a letter and send it at your earliest convenience. 

Thank you. 

Sincerely,

The Teton Climbers’ Coalition

 

 —————————————————————————— 

Draft Letter Example:

Dear Jackson Town Council, Teton County Commissioners and Teton County Parks and Recreation Department, 

[On behalf of YOUR ORGANIZATION, BUSINESS OR PERSONAL NAME,] I strongly support the inclusion of a climbing gym as part of the Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center expansion. I also support a gym large enough to accommodate the community’s needs. 

Jackson Hole is first and foremost a mountain community, with much of its history and culture steeped in climbing and mountaineering. A climbing gym at the Teton County / Jackson Recreation center will not only be a tribute to this heritage; it will also be an invaluable asset for our entire community—kids, families, guides, search and rescue members and veteran climbers alike.

Key to a great gym is enough space to accommodate our community’s needs.

Current plans for the Rec Center climbing gym call for ca. 9,000 square feet for the climbing gym, which translates to roughly 7,000 square feet of climbing area. 

The Enclosure Climbing Gym, which closed in 2014, had 10,000 square feet of climbing area. Given the increase in Teton County population and in climbing’s popularity, demand today is higher than it was when The Enclosure closed.

For this reason, I’m writing in support of a MINIMUM of 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of climbing area for the Rec Center climbing gym.

An appropriately sized rec center climbing gym will not only contribute to our community’s physical and mental wellbeing. It will create a safe venue for our kids, one that connects them to positive role models and a lifestyle that’s aligned with Jackson Hole’s legacy as the epicenter of American mountaineering. These connections will last the rest of their lives.  Allocating an appropriate amount of space to the gym is essential to making this happen.

Thank you for considering my support for an appropriately sized gym. 

Sincerely,

Your name

Title

Rec Center Climbing Gym: Key Points

The TCC has conducted more than 70 hours of research on climbing facilities around the country, identifying best practices and attributes that will ensure the climbing gym meets our community’s needs.

Current plans allocate 7,000 to 9,000 square feet for the Rec Center climbing gym. For context, the Enclosure climbing gym was 10,000 square feet.

Our research indicates the Rec Center climbing gym should be between 10,000 and 12,000 square feet. It furthermore indicates that a 5,750 square foot gym would create a negative user experience. This in turn would be a poor expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

Here’s why:

  • Climbing gyms are family friendly 
    • Parents and kids can participate together, creating a bonding experience that can last a lifetime.
    • Children who begin climbing improve rapidly, often outclimbing their parents within a few years of starting
  • Climbing gyms, done right, create a safe, healthy venue for youth 
    • If they are open after school, on the weekends and during times, such as summers, when schools are closed, they provide a trouble-free, positive alternative to other “entertainment” options.
    • A good gym will not only connect kids and parents. It will also connect kids to a healthy pursuit that will last the rest of their lives, to positive role models and to a lifestyle pathway that’s congruent with Jackson’s mountain legacy and traditions. 
  • Climbing engages the whole community
    • The climbing gym can serve as a catalyst to better connect with and understand our large immigrant Latino population. The boundaries of racial/cultural separation disappear once the rope is shared.
    • Our Latino community deserves to share in our outdoor adventures, our stories, and the transcendent power of the outdoors/ the creation of leaders and stewards.
  • A good gym will generate revenue that can support other Parks and Recreation amenities
    •  A good, properly sized gym will generate greater revenue (i.e., judicious expenditure of taxpayer dollars). A bad gym will generate less or lose money (i.e., waste of taxpayer dollars). 
    • The Enclosure Climbing Gym generated $500,000-700,000/year in revenue
    • Canmore’s Elevation Place community climbing center generates $100,000 in shoe and harness rentals alone
  • Climbing is social, which is healthy
    • A 2018 national survey by Cigna reported that loneliness levels have reached an all-time high, with nearly half of 20,000 U.S. adults reporting they sometimes or always feel alone. 
    • A meta-analysis, co-authored by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, reports “loneliness and social isolation are twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity.”
    • Climbing gyms address both obesity and social isolation better than traditional gyms. They’re outstripping the fitness market for a reason: they’re fun—and they’re fun because they’re social.
  • Climbing is a key part of Jackson’s heritage and legacy
    •  Jackson is the epicenter of American mountaineering. Every town has rec centers, ball courts and fitness studios; none have the Tetons
    • The Boulder Park—a unique tribute to Jackson’s climbing heritage —is the most popular amenity in Parks and Recreation’s catalogue
  • Climbing’s popularity is exploding
    • From 2012-2017, the growth of the indoor climbing wall industry was 39% greater than that of the gym, health, and fitness clubs industry over the same period.
    • In the last couple of years, the debut of films like The Dawn Wall and the Oscar-Award winning Free Solo has only accelerated that growth
    • Climbing will make its debut in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. According to the industry research company IBIS, this “is anticipated to accelerate interest in climbing, driving demand for indoor climbing wall operators.”
  • Climbing gyms enhance safety for guides, rangers, Search and Rescue and regular climbers alike
    • A well-designed gym permits guides, climbing rangers and search and rescue team members with a place to practice rescue scenarios
    • Beginning climbers can learn the skills and techniques necessary for safe outings in the crags and mountains around town

Making gyms fun, family friendly and social requires a key ingredient: space. A 5,750 sq. ft. gym is too small. 

  • The Enclosure Climbing Gym had 10,000 square feet of climbing space. When it closed in 2014, it had 700 members and had up to 50-100 people in the facility at any given time.
  • Canada’s premier mountaineering town, Canmore, has a population of 13,992. Its gym, Elevation Place, which opened in 2013 as part of the community’s rec center, offers 11,000 square feet of climbing surface. Because it’s in a community center, Elevation Place has thousands of members. 
    • “We should have made our gym bigger because there’s always a wait list,” said Brian Spear, the Climbing Coordinator for the Town of Canmore.  “It’s too busy for a positive experience, so we make them wait. People who work M-F 9-5 are always on the waitlist.”
  • Community space is one of the most important considerations for a gym. The best gyms design the climbing experience around the social experience. (“If you look at any gym in any moment, 75% of people are just hanging out. It’s social.)
  • Open designs yield the best community/social experience, as well as better route-setting access and better flow.
  • A well-designed gym that incorporates community space can use the space for events, film screenings, music, art, and other community gatherings

Let’s give our community the climbing gym it deserves.

Babsi Zangerl, Jacopo Larcher To Recount Their Eiger Adventures March 11

Barbara Zangerl on pitch 20 (7c, 5.12d) of Odyssee (5.13c, 33 pitches), north face of the Eiger (3967m), Bernese Alps, Switzerland. Photo: Alpsolut Pictures

Arguably no wall in the world commands the same sort of respect from alpinists as the north face of the Eiger. 

Arguably no woman in the world is as strong a free climber as Austrian Babsi Zangerl.

On Thursday, March 11, Babsi and her partner, Italian climber Jacopo Larcher, will recount their efforts to free climb the Eiger’s hardest route, the 33-pitch, 5.13c Odyssee—in a day.

Part of the Teton Climbers’ Coalition Winter Speaker Series, the virtual event is free and open to the public. A $5 donation is suggested. 

Registration may be made here.

Overlooking the Swiss village of Grindelwald in the Bernese Alps, the Eiger (3967m/13,015 feet) has been the scene of countless tragedies, triumphs and epics, all of which have added to its fierce reputation. Nearly 2000 meters high—6,000 feet, or two north faces of the Grand Teton stacked one on top of the other—its Nordwand (North Wall) is cloaked in shadow, a magnet for fierce mountain storms, ominous and foreboding. And deadly: since 1935, it has claimed the lives of at least 64 climbers. Some refer to it simply as the Mordwand: the murder(ous) wall. 

While the Nordwand’s lefthand side is infamous for spiderwebs of snow and ice that hold its deadly rock in place, the wall’s right side is a different story. There, a mottled dark limestone, as impeccable as the fabled stone of France’s Verdon Gorge, has yielded to the modern free climber a treasure-trove of high-caliber routes on which to test one’s skills. Hardest among them is Odyssee, the free climb established in 2015 by Roger Schaeli, Simon Gietl, and Robert Jasper.

Babsi Zangerl was named National Geographic’s 2019 Adventurer of the Year for a reason. Initially a boulderer—in 2008 she became the first woman to boulder V13—she was pushed onto longer routes by back problems that precluded the impact common to bouldering falls. She hasn’t looked back. From 5.14b trad lines to 5.14d sport routes, she has consistently pushed herself to the forefront of the world’s best climbers. In 2103 she became the first woman, and third person overall, to climb the Alpine Trilogy—three testpiece, multipitch 5.14a routes, all bold, runout and established in ground-up style.

For the past eight years many of Babsi’s climbs were made in conjunction with her longtime partner, Jacopo Larcher. From his origins as a comp climber and Italian bouldering champion, Jacopo had, like Babsi, migrated to longer routes, climbing up to 5.14d sport and 5.14b trad as well as 5.14c multipitch climbs.

In 2015, the powerhouse couple set their eyes on the biggest free climbing prize in the world: El Capitan. Over the course of four years, they freed five of its routes: El Nino, for the route’s first female ascent; Zodiac, also for the first female ascent; Magic Mushroom, for the route’s second overall free ascent; and, in 2019, both the Pre-Muir Wall and The Nose. 

In 2018, the pair turned their attention to a route closer to home, redpointing Odyssee, ground-up, over the course of four days. On the summit, the idea was born: Could they free it in a single day?

They returned to the Nordwand in August 2020, positioning themselves for the attempt. Amidst storms that left up to a meter of snow, they worked out the crux moves in swirling mists and freezing temperatures. When the storms finally cleared, they launched, fighting through wet conditions on climbing up to 5.12d for sixteen hours until the summit was in sight.

A few easy pitches from the top, another storm rolled in. Pummelled by rain and hail, frozen to the bone, they had no option but to retreat, rappelling 31 pitches in a waterfall. 

On Thursday, March 11, Babsi and Jacopo will recount their return effort to climb, in a day, the hardest route on alpine climbing’s most notorious face.

The event, which is being sponsored by the Hatchet Resort, Black Diamond, Teton Mountaineering, Skinny Skis, Alpinist Magazine, Arc’Teryx, Access Fund, and The American Alpine Club, in collaboration with Coombs Outdoors and the Jackson Hole High School Mountaineering Club, will be streamed via Zoom.

The virtual event will open at 8:30 p.m. with a “happy half hour” before the main presentation. Babsi and Jacopo will begin at 9 p.m.—a 5 a.m. alpine start for them in Europe.

The event marks the third of the Winter Speaker Series, which was designed to provide the Teton climbing community a chance to “gather” in the midst of the pandemic. On January 21, Carlos Carsolio, the first North American to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks, shared his adventures on the highest mountains in the world. The recording of his presentation, which begins at Minute 49, may be found here.

On Feb. 18, George Lowe, Michael Kennedy and Michael Gardner made a blended presentation of climbing one of the great lines in world mountaineering: Alaska’s Infinite Spur. Their presentation, which begins at Minute 43, may be found here.