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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.

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.

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.

Mexican Alpinist Carlos Carsolio to Kick Off TCC’s Winter Speaker Series

The TCC is excited to announce our first ever winter speaker series. The series is designed to provide the Teton climbing community a chance to “gather” in the midst of the pandemic.

Carlos Carsolio

Three virtual events are being planned. The first, scheduled for Thursday, January 21, at 7 p.m., features world-renowned Mexican alpinist and motivational speaker Carlos Carsolio, the fourth person, and first North American, to climb the world’s fourteen 8000-meter peaks. 

Registration for the Carlos Carsolio event may be made here.

The second, on Thursday, February 18, will feature Michael Gardner, a second-generation Teton mountain guide who has put up new climbing routes and first ski descents all over the world. 

A third event is currently under development.

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

A 45-minute “happy hour” before each speaker will provide participants an opportunity to socialize, and to learn more about the TCC’s work on Latino engagement, stewardship projects, the Rec Center expansion climbing gym and more. 

The choice of speakers for the series, Carsolio in particular, was intentional. Though he is best known for his Himalayan climbing, Carsolio also made ascents of testpiece objectives such as Yosemite’s El Capitan and Patagonia’s Cerro Torre as well as four routes, one of which was new, on the big walls of Baffin Island.

“Carlos’ ascents, made in alpine style, without fixed ropes or supplemental oxygen, often solo and via new routes, place him among the greatest alpinists of all time,” said TCC board chair Christian Beckwith. “One of the TCC’s objectives is to create pathways into the cultural narrative of Teton climbing for our Latino community members. Carlos’ story as a Mexican climber who rose to the heights of world alpinism will serve as an inspiration for our entire community, Latino and Caucasian alike.”

Each event is free and open to the public. A $5 donation is suggested. Links to the events will be sent to registrants one to two days before each event.

Recap Rodeo Wall Adopt-A-Crag

Just as smokey conditions gave way to clear skies again in western Wyoming, on August 27th, 2020, fifteen volunteers showed up to contribute to the stewardship project at Rodeo Wall. The group involved climbers from groups such as Exum Mountain Guides, the Town Pump and even Jackson Hole News and Guide!

The primary focus of the Teton Climbers’ Coalition event was the maintenance of the crag’s belay area, where a new retaining wall was built. Additionally, volunteers widened the system trail’s upper section, and installed straw erosion control blankets over informal user-created trails to prevent further erosion and damage of habitat.

A huge thanks to the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, Teton Mountaineering, Bridger Teton National Forest, The American Alpine Club and Access Fund for giving the TCC the opportunity to contribute to the community by maintaining this local crag! And to our volunteers for a great effort! We hope it was fun, and look forward to seeing you at future Adopt-A-Crag events!

We also hope to return to Rodeo Wall soon to conduct further trail clearing, as well as place a couple of signs regarding responsible climbing in the area, so stay tuned for a potential phase 2!

Check out the event’s coverage by the Jackson Hole News & Guide here.

Adopt-A-Crag: Help Us Rebuild Rodeo Wall

 

Climbers know: Rodeo Wall needs some love. This August, join us in a project to make Rodeo Wall safer and better by cleaning the top of the cliff of loose rocks and rebuilding the climbing platforms at the base of the routes.

Rodeo Wall is a small limestone crag located some twenty minutes from downtown Jackson and two miles south of Hoback Junction. It is part of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which comprises 3.4 million acres of some of the most spectacular public land in America. Like all public lands under the current administration, it’s also under assault: the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Forest Service budget for discretionary appropriations is $5.3 billion, a decrease of $155.6 million from the FY 2020 Enacted amount.

As the Friends of the Bridger-Teton National Forest website notes:

“The Bridger-Teton National Forest currently lacks the federal resources needed to meet the opportunities and challenges associated with growing recreation and visitor use in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Since 2009, the BTNF has lost nine full-time recreation positions and suffered a 63% decrease in their infrastructure and maintenance budget. This reality can affect our wildlife, our watersheds and our communities’ support for public lands.”

You can help.

On Thursday, August 27, The Teton Climbers’ Coalition will conduct an “adopt-a-crag” of the local climbing area. We encourage our climbing community to step forward and become an active steward of your public lands. Help us to preserve and protect one of our favorite local climbing area and show land managers that climbers are responsible stewards, which in turn promotes access.

Volunteers are needed to help with several projects, such as belay platform restoration and general trail maintenance. Please meet at the Rodeo Wall turn out at 3:00 PM to register and receive a project assignment. Due to limited parking, carpooling is suggested, but please wear a mask while carpooling, to avoid exposure to COVID-19. Bring a bottle of water, work appropriate clothes, closed toe shoes, gloves, sunblock, insect repellent and face mask (please wear any time you are within 6 feet of another human). Water station, refreshments and snacks will be provided. 

All volunteers must complete a Volunteer Application and Waiver. We encourage volunteers, if possible, to sign up online prior to the event. This will allow us to better plan. Please send your application to info@tetonclimbers.com. Last minute volunteers are also welcome!

The Teton Climbers’ Coalition is proud to partner with the Access Fund on the project. The Access Fund’s Adopt a Crag program is about giving back to the climbing areas we use on a regular basis. From the signs in the parking areas, to the established trail systems, to the rocks and boulders where we devote endless hours, climbers are frequent land users, and it is important that we make an effort to maintain and care for that land. Adopt a Crag encourages climbing communities to engage local land managers, landowners, park service employees and forest rangers in conversation about ways to preserve and protect their favorite climbing areas. It is this dedication to climbing areas that shows land managers that climbers are responsible stewards, which in turn promotes access.

Climbing Gym Survey Results Published

In the November 2019 election, Teton County voters approved $22 million, via the SPET initiative’s Proposition #9, for “Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center Expansion and Renovation, Community Climbing Gym, King Street Extension, and Stormwater Treatment.”

In June, The Teton Climbers’ Coalition (TCC) created a survey to gather community input that could be used to inform the gym’s development.

The survey was published in both Spanish and English. More than 300 community members completed the survey, with more than 84% of respondents indicating that they voted for Proposition 9 specifically because of the climbing gym.

Survey responses, which have been shared with Teton County Parks and Recreation Department, may be found here.

One of the strongest responses elicited by the survey came in regards to the gym’s proposed 5,750 square feet of climbing area. (The Enclosure Climbing Gym, which closed in 2014, had 10,000 square feet of climbing area.)

More than 85% of respondents indicated that the 5,750 square feet would be inadequate for the needs of the community.

  • “Way too small,” wrote one. “Don’t even bother building a climbing gym if it’s only 5,000 [square feet],” wrote another.
  • “This gym has got to be big (at least Enclosure sized) to be a worthwhile climbing facility and not constantly crowded.”
  • “Make it big and amazing,” encouraged a third.

Responses comprised a broad range of county demographics. 60% of respondents indicated they were 35 years old or older; nearly the same percentage (57%) have lived in Jackson longer than 10 years. More than half of the respondents indicated they live in households with 3 or more inhabitants, while 44% have children 17 years old or younger in their homes.

A number of respondents referenced Jackson’s mountaineering legacy when commenting about the gym.

  • “Teton County is a world class mountain destination,” wrote one respondent. “It deserves a world class climbing gym.”
  • “In our unique community it is essential that we promote climbing to reflect our mountain culture,” wrote another.
  • A third noted, “A proper modern climbing gym is critical to the town of Jackson if it wants to continue its tradition as a central place for American climbing/mountaineering.”

Survey results indicated that the gym will be a family affair. In response to the question, “If you have children, will they use the gym?” 89% of respondents either answered “Yes” (63%) or “Maybe” (26%).

Separate areas for kids emerged as a priority, with more than 50% of respondents indicating they would like to see a kid- and beginner-specific climbing area that’s separated from the main climbing area, and more than 75% indicated that children’s birthday parties should be restricted to the separate area.

Responses provided a number of other key insights important to the gym’s management, such as:

  • More than 94% of respondents indicated they would use the gym one or more times per week
    • 31% of respondents would use the gym 1-2 times per week.
    • 41% would use it 2-3 times per week.
    • 15% would use it 3-4 times per week, while 8% would use it more than 4 days per week
  • The busiest usage would occur Thursdays after 5 p.m.
  • 89% indicated they wanted to see a mix of bouldering and roped climbing in the gym.

Almost 90% of respondents indicated that the gym should either be managed by specialized staff with specific climbing gym training (79%) or run by an independent climbing gym company (10%).

Other responses pointed to the importance of route setting: 93% of respondents indicated that high quality route setting was either important (22%) or very important (71%) to them.

As one respondent wrote, “Regardless of the size of the gym, having route setters come up monthly or every two months … should be factored into the budget. High-quality route setting is critical.”

“Good route setting = customer retention,” said another.

Additional insights that could help with the gym’s development are as follows:

  • “One thing that is important to me with climbing gyms is having female route setters, because it increases the diversity of climbs (especially for different body types) and females can get overlooked in climbing. Having regular women’s climbing events would be an incredible addition as well.”
  • “[Climbing is] an activity that can be enjoyed at a high level for all ages and genders. Another benefit is for young women; I have seen self esteem and confidence grow as they mature. It is also a sport for the child that doesn’t ‘fit’ the team sports model.”
  • “The gym could serve as a community gathering ground for film events, learning opportunities from local guiding outfitters, and an opportunity for local children to grow into the sport of climbing in a safe manner.”
  • “A community climbing league would be super cool too!”

Overall, though, one of the main themes that emerged from the survey was sheer enthusiasm. Comments such as, “I am very excited to go climbing there when it opens!”, “It’s about time!!!!”, and “lets goooooooooo” peppered the responses.

Wrote one respondent, “I’m so thankful that something is happening … because my husband and I have felt like there are not great and healthy ways to socialize during winter evenings without it in this town. We have really missed the gym!!”

“The community’s response to the survey has been amazing,” said Christian Beckwith, TCC Chair. “It underscores the county-wide desire for a great gym—and also highlights the emphasis the community places on getting the gym right.”