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Monthly Archives: May 2021

Boulderdash Rescheduled to Thursday Due to Weather

Due to weather, The Boulderdash—a free, community bouldering session at the Teton Boulder Park—is being rescheduled to Thursday, May 27, from 6-9 p.m. at The Teton Boulder Park.

Climbers will boulder for an hour and a half, followed by “The Boulderdash,” a 15-minute sprint to climb as many high-value routes as they can.

At the Boulderdash’s conclusion, we’ll strip the boulders to help get the Park ready for The Town Pump, which starts June 1.

The Boulderdash is open to the public. All ages are welcome.

Bring shoes, chalk, power drills and drill bits for the after-hours boulder strip.

Let your friends know you’re coming!

Boulderdash to Help Climbing Community Prep for Town Pump

On Tuesday, May 25, from 6-8 p.m., The Teton Climbers’ Coalition will host The Boulderdash, a community bouldering session, at The Teton Boulder Park.

The Boulderdash will help prepare the Teton Boulder Park for The Town Pump, the summertime bouldering series that begins June 1.

The Boulderdash will utilize the Pump’s typical format for a two-hour bouldering session. At its conclusion, the Boulderdash will give participants fifteen minutes to climb as many high-value routes as they can. The total of these scores will be added to their final score. 

Following The Boulderdash, participants will help get the Boulder Park ready for the Pump by stripping and resetting the boulders.

The Boulderdash is free and open to the public. Those interested in participating are encouraged to simply bring their shoes, chalk bags, and stoke.

More than 500 Community Members Support a Bigger Climbing Gym

In less than two weeks, a petition to allocate additional square footage to Rec Center’s community climbing gym has received more than 530 signatures.

The petition’s Comments section indicates a range of reasons for the support, from a broad spectrum of community members.

“As the mother of a small child, I can speak to how important indoor recreation spaces are—especially in the winter,” wrote Shannon White Burns. “It would be great to have a gym large enough to accommodate a variety of users, from small children to experienced athletes and climbers.”

“Climbing is a fast-growing, popular sport,” wrote John Prenner. “It fills a void for kids not served by team sports. Its low cost makes it inclusive for most socio-economic groups. It is a sport that can be enjoyed equally by all ages [and] genders for a lifetime.”

Diversity and inclusivity emerged as central considerations among signatories.

“Notice how many Latino families use the [Rec Center] facilities,” wrote Sasha Dingle. “A climbing gym large enough to support the needs of the Jackson community would also be a key step for diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoors.”

Christine Mychajliw concurred. “More room would help create an inclusive environment for people with disabilities to climb alongside everybody else,” she wrote.

“In order for this facility to be inclusive for all user groups, it MUST be as large as possible,” Lori Clark-Erickson wrote. “Imagine school programs, Women’s Wednesdays, youth climbing clubs, space for all…. Please make it big!! You will not regret this decision.”

Molly Tyson referenced the value a good gym would provide in developing confidence for young girls—“an arena where strength may be differently defined.”

She also cited the ways a good gym could cultivate a community-wide “culture of safety,” which “aligns with [the] goals of Teton County SAR and others in reducing backcountry incidences.”

Safety was referenced in other ways as well. “I have to drive twice a week to Idaho Falls to go to the climbing gym,” wrote Elizabeth. “In winter time [it’s] really dangerous.”

Others noted financial prudence.

“Without a properly sized climbing gym, the community would be spending precious tax payer dollars and using valuable resources to build an asset that would essentially be under-serving the community from day one of opening its doors,” said Ian Eastman.

“[T]o construct something that will exceed its max capacity in the very near future seems ill advised and a little tone deaf to its long-term success,” wrote Jeff Burke.

Perhaps more than anything else, the comments demonstrated the community’s enthusiasm for a gym built wisely.

“This is an opportunity to look forward and create a space suited to the current and future needs of the community,” wrote Marisol Sullivan.

Rick Armstrong agreed. “Build the climbing gym once and do it right and make it a reflection of our community and its climbing heritage,” he wrote.

“Let’s do this one right the first time, Teton County!!” wrote Julie Zell.

The petition is being organized by The Teton Climbers’ Coalition, which last month sent more than 80 letters to Town and County elected officials in support of a larger gym.

Last summer, more than 300 community members completed a survey on the proposed gym. 85% of respondents indicated that the 5,750 square feet then proposed for the gym would be inadequate for the needs of the community.

Top 10 Reasons We Should Make the Climbing Gym Big Enough

Key to a gym that can serve the entire community is enough space. Current plans call for an 8,500 square-foot gym with ca. 11,000 square feet of climbing surface area, which is too small to meet the community’s needs.

Here are our Top 10 reasons the Rec Center climbing gym needs to big enough to meet the current and future needs of the community:

10. A good climbing gym will provide physical and mental health benefits that last a lifetime

  • People go to gyms out of guilt. They climb because it’s fun. Fun is a stronger motivator than guilt.
  • Climbing is a lifetime sport. You can do it when you’re 8, and you can do it when you’re 80.
  • Key to a fun gym experience is enough space. A 8,500-sq. ft. gym is too small.

9. A gym smaller than 10,000 square feet will necessitate a waiting list during peak hours

  • 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.

8. Climbing gyms are family friendly. Making gyms family friendly requires a key ingredient: enough space.

  • Climbing gyms are fun for parents and kids alike. When families climb together, it creates a bonding experience that can last a lifetime.
  • Rich Johnston, President of Vertical World, Inc., notes, “This morning a member called me—he has a daughter who just got into climbing. He said, you know, we do all sorts of sports. I can sit in the bleachers and watch her play soccer. It’s not engaging. Climbing is the best family thing we’ve done.
  • “It’s very, very family oriented. There are very few spots where the parents can hang out with their kids and do the sport together. It has an amazing impact on the family dynamic. I hear that all the time.”
  • Current designs for the Rec Center climbing gym will create a gym that’s too small to be family friendly.

7. Climbing is fun because it’s social—and social is healthy

  • 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.”
  • Rich Johnston notes, “If you look at any gym in any given moment, 75% of people are just hanging out. It’s social.”
  • 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.
  • A gym that’s social requires enough space. A 8,500-sq. ft. gym is too small to create a good social experience.

6. The bigger the gym, the better the community experience

  • 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
  • Key to a good gym is enough space. A 8,500-sq. ft. gym is too small to create adequate community space.

6. By engaging the entire community, a good climbing gym will help change the cultural narrative of who’s outside

  • Climbing rangers, guides, search and rescue members, families, Latinx community members and youth alike will use the gym. Because climbing is social, the boundaries of generational, cultural and racial separation disappear once the rope is shared
  • The interactions fostered by a good gym will strengthen relationships across different sectors of the community and help change the cultural narrative of who’s outside in Jackson Hole. This in turn will open doors for future outdoor leaders and stewards
  • Key to engaging the entire community is a good gym. Key to a good gym is enough space. A 8,500-sq. ft. gym is too small.

5. A good gym will enhance safety for guides, rangers, Search and Rescue and regular climbers alike

  • A good gym will all its users with a place to practice techniques and rescue scenarios
  • Beginners will be able to learn the skills and techniques necessary for safe adventures in the crags and mountains, reducing the human and financial costs of accidents
  • Key to a good gym is enough space. A gym that’s too small won’t enhance safety as much as a adequately sized gym

4. A good gym will generate revenue that can support other Parks and Recreation programs and amenities

  • The current Parks and Rec building recovers less than a third of its cost
  • 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
  • The bigger the gym, the more revenue it will generate to offset other Parks and Rec programming

3. A good gym will honor Jackson Hole’s legacy as the epicenter of American mountaineering

  • Every town has rec centers with ball courts and fitness studios; no one else has the Tetons, or our climbing legacy
  • The Teton Boulder Park is not only a unique tribute to Jackson’s climbing heritage. It’s the most popular amenity in Parks and Recreation’s catalogue and Trip Advisor’s #15 “Things to Do in Jackson Hole,” underscoring the natural prominence of climbing in our community
  • A community with a great climbing legacy should have a great gym. Key to a great gym is enough space.

2. A good gym will create a safe, healthy venue for youth 

  • Afterschool activities in Teton County are limited, which opens the door to unhealthy, unsafe activities.
  • Kids love to climb. A good climbing gym will provide positive options for youth activities after school, on weekends and during school holidays
  • Key to a good gym is enough space. A 8,500-sq. ft. gym will be too crowded to be fun, for kids as well as for adults

And the Number 1 Reason the Rec Center Climbing Gym should be bigger is…

1. The Rec Center climbing gym will have more users than The Enclosure did.

  • The Enclosure Climbing Gym, which had 700 members when it closed in 2014, was 12,000 square feet
  • Climbing’s popularity has exploded since The Enclosure closed. Films like Free Solo and the inclusion of climbing in the Olympics will only add to this trend
  • The Rec Center’s downtown location will attract more tourists that the Enclosure did
  • More people will use the Rec Center climbing gym than The Enclosure because it’s a public facility

Let’s make our climbing gym great, for this and future generations!

Make the Climbing Gym Big Enough: Sign the Petition!

Thanks to the many, many advocates in our community, we delivered 80 letters of support for a bigger climbing gym to our elected officials. To everyone who wrote in, thanks for your support!

You may have seen this week’s article about the retention of a climbing wall consultant for the gym. This is great news, as it will ensure considerations for the gym are integrated into the larger expansion from the start.

Our window for influencing the size of the gym, though, is closing. We’re making one final push for a gym that’s big enough to meet the needs of the community with this petition.

We have two favors to ask:

  1. Would you sign the petition?
  2. Would you ask a friend (or two) to sign it as well?

On behalf of the entire climbing community, thanks for your help!

Click here to sign the petition.

Entre Prises Hired as Independent Climbing Gym Consultant

The very first recommendation the TCC made to Parks and Rec regarding the community climbing gym was to retain an independent climbing gym consultant as early in the gym’s development as possible.

We’re pleased to announce that this week, our elected officials approved Entre Prises as the climbing wall consultant for the Rec Center climbing gym.

TCC board members Marion Meyers and Bob McLaurin participated in the vetting process for the consultant company. As Meyers wrote, “The TCC and community members are very pleased to have an independent climbing consultant to collaborate with the consultant team and to engage community members in the early stages of the design process. The independent consultant will look at creative optimal use of space and the best use of taxpayer dollars without having a stake in construction of a specific climbing wall style or company.

“Early collaboration on design will assist with creating a gym for a wide variety of community users,” she continued, “including families and their children, students, visitors, and the local climbing community.”

Read the article on the process that resulted in the retention of Entre Prises here.

Please join us in thanking Parks and Rec Director Steve Ashworth for moving forward on the recommendation and for including TCC board members in the vetting process. Additional thanks goes to Teton County Commissioner Greg Epstein for his due diligence in inquiring about community support of the Teton County Parks and Rec RFP process for the expansion.

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our elected officials and with Parks and Rec on the development of a climbing gym that meets the community’s needs, today and in the future.