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Ways to Get Involved with the Rec Center Climbing Gym

Want to help build a climbing gym that serves the entire community, now and in the future? Here are two ways you can do so.

  1. Rec Center Open House

On August 10-11, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Rec Center gym, Parks & Rec is hosting a community Open House about the Rec Center expansion, including the climbing gym. The climbing gym consultants along with the expansion’s builder and architect will be on hand to present their ideas to the public.

Climbers, this is our chance to let Parks & Rec know what we want to see in a climbing gym. Please spread the word, mark it on your calendars and show up on Aug. 10 and 11. Your participation will help determine the climbing gym we get for our community.

  1. Contact Your Elected Officials

The Teton Climbers’ Coalition has been reaching out to elected officials about our concerns that the climbing gym will be too small. They’ve told us that they need to hear from a wide breadth of the community,not just TCC board members—especially because the Rec Center expansion, and the gym, are being funded by SPET money voted on by the community. 

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Offer public comment, in person or electronically, at County Commissioner and/or Town Council meetings.
    • Community members may make comment in support of a bigger gym at the start of every meeting. It’s easy—you can even do it remotely!
      • BCC meetings: Aug. 2, 3, and 9. See BCC information here.
      • Town Council meeting: Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. See meeting agenda here.
      • Joint Information Meeting: August 2 at 3 pm. See meeting agenda here.
  1. Write your elected officials. The easiest way to let our elected officials know what you want to see in a climbing gym is by writing them an email. Here are the addresses to use:

 

Town Council All council@jacksonwy.gov
Jonathan Schechter jschechter@jacksonwy.gov
Hailey Morton Levison hmortonlevinson@jacksonwy.gov
Jim Rooks jrooks@jacksonwy.gov
Jessica Chambers jchambers@jacksonwy.gov
Arne Jorgenson AJorgensen@jacksonwy.gov
County Commission All commissioners@tetoncountywy.gov
Greg Epstein gepstein@tetoncountywy.gov
Natalia Macker nmacker@tetoncountywy.gov
Mark Barron mbarron@tetoncountywy.gov
Luther Propst lpropst@tetoncountywy.gov
Mark Newcomb mnewcomb@tetoncountywy.gov

 

 Let’s let our elected officials know what the community wants from the community climbing gym. After all, we’re paying for it!

 

The Boulder Park Needs Your Help

The Teton Boulder Park was completed in 2010. Since that time, more than 120 backer plates—the back-end fixtures for the climbing holds—have become cross-threaded, with bolts sheared off inside them. These backer plates can no longer be used for holds. As the majority of them are concentrated at the corners of the boulders, where holds are particularly important, this compromises the boulders’ functionality.

The TCC has been working to assist Parks and Rec with backer plate replacements. Due to staff shortages, Parks and Rec is unable to replace the backer plates without our help.

Let’s help Parks and Rec get the Boulder Park back up to full speed! Ping us at info@tetonclimbers.com to volunteer.

Climbing Gym Open House Aug. 10-11

On August 10th and 11th, Teton County Parks and Rec will host a Community Open House about the upcoming Rec Center expansion, including the development of the climbing gym. The event will allow community members to ask questions and provide their input to Parks & Rec staff.

Climbers, this is your chance to weigh in on a climbing gym that can serve the entire community, now and in the future. Stay tuned for more information on the Open House, and RSVP to participate here.

TCC to Coordinate Rodeo Wall, Hoback Shield Adopt-A-Crag Projects This Summer

The Teton Climbers’ Coalition (TCC) is working on two stewardship projects of interest to local climbers.

On July 29, the local climbing organization, led by stewardship director Chris Owen, will complete the work it began last year on Rodeo Wall.

On August 26, the TCC will help build a new access trail for the Hoback Shield.

Both projects are being done in coordination with the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF).

Last year, in a project made possible by the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, Teton Mountaineering, The American Alpine Club, Access Fund and BTNF, the TCC coordinated an Adopt-A-Crag project on Rodeo Wall. Fifteen volunteers built a new retaining wall at the base of the crag. Additionally, volunteers widened the access trail’s upper section, and installed straw erosion control blankets over informal, user-created trails to prevent further erosion and damage of habitat.

An article on the project appeared in the Jackson Hole News & Guide here. The July 29 Rodeo Wall Adopt-A-Crag will finish the work initiated in 2020.

The Hoback Wall Adopt-A-Crag project is also a priority this summer for the TCC.

Earlier this year, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) informed the BTNF of their intention to place guardrails on the highway at the base of the Hoback Shield, one of Jackson Hole’s premier climbing crags.

Placement of the guardrails will eliminate the parking pullout used by climbers to access the cliff.

A screenshot of the Hoback Shield. The red line is the highway, along which climbers currently park to access the cliff. The green rectangle and green line indicate the locations of the new parking lot and access trails.

To help develop a new access trail, the TCC and BTNF will coordinate a volunteer effort to expand the historic snowmobile parking on the plateau just northwest of the Granite Creek junction near the sled dog tour building.

From there, the project will develop an old trail and connect it to the existing access trail to the base of the cliff.

The project will also close and rehab the first three switchbacks of the old trail.

Those who enjoy climbing at Rodeo Wall or Hoback Shield and are encouraged to volunteer by emailing the TCC at info@tetonclimbers.com.

 

Welcome New TCC Team Members

The Teton Climbers’ Coalition is pleased to announce the addition of several new members to its team.

Over the past few months, Charlie Thomas and Garrick Hart have joined our board.

Charlie Thomas

Charlie, who has lived in Jackson Hole since 1980, is a fine woodworker and longtime climber (and skier and kayaker) who guided raft trips in the Valley until 1986 when he started Magpie Furniture. Forty seven years of climbing have taken him to South America, Canada and throughout the United States. Married to Marylee White with two now-adult children, he continues to build furniture in Wilson and climb whenever the rocks need to be climbed.

Exum guide Garrick Hart has climbed throughout the west including ascents on El Capitan in Yosemite as well as rock and ice routes in places such as Red Rocks, Moab, the North Cascades, and throughout Wyoming. Many of the ascents were with his wife, twin daughters and son.

Garrick Hart

Garrick teaches physics at Jackson Hole High School and runs the mountaineering club there as well, teaching students to know and love the mountains as well as how to travel and recreate in them safely.

Joining our stewardship team are Tom Hargis and Wesley Gooch.

Tom Hargis

Tom is an Internationally Certified AMGA/UIAGM Mountain Guide who has climbed extensively in Canada and U.S., including five routes on El Capitan and many ascents in the southwest. He has guided and done expeditions throughout the world, including in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and made the first ascent of the northwest ridge of Pakistan’s Gasherbrum IV —the only American to ever summit the peak. Expeditions to Everest and Gasherbrum II. He is a recipient of AMGA Lifetime Achievement in Guiding Award (2004) and is an AMGA instructor and examiner in Rock and Alpine disciplines.

Born in Jackson and raised in Pinedale, Wesley grew up climbing and exploring the Teton and Wind River Mountain ranges. At thirteen, he was introduced to the sport of rock climbing and was hooked for life. The alpine rock of the Wind River Mountains has been Wesley’s primary source of climbing inspiration. Every year, he returns to explore and establish new routes high in the Wind Rivers.

Wesley pursues many forms of climbing: bouldering, sport, traditional, alpine, and ice climbing. He is also the author of the guidebook Rock Climbing Jackson Hole & Pinedale, Wyoming (which includes Driggs, ID), and is currently working on a third edition.

Wesley Gooch

Please join us in welcoming all four volunteers to the TCC team, which continues to work on behalf of all the climbers in the greater Teton area.

 

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.