Unicorns of the Setting World

Photo: Crux Crush
Photo: Crux Crush
More gyms across the country have women on their setting staff including The Spot, Seattle Bouldering Project, Mesa Rim, Vertical World, Aiguille Rock Gym and many others.   At last years ABS Youth National Championship Nicole Girder was awarded her USAC Level 3 certification becoming the third female National setter. But when compared to male setters, females still are not well represented in the routesetting world.  One way to change that is to have good female role models, and one great example is Molly Beard from Portland, Oregon.  Molly has been setting National level competitions for over 18 years and is currently the Head Setter at Club Sport, Level 5 National Chief Setter and USA Climbing Routesetting Certified Instructor. Her routes are the perfect example of what a technically perfect climber and consummate professional can put on the wall. Crux Crush has a great new interview with Molly talking about being a freelance setter, keeping things fresh and the difference between indoor climbing and outdoor climbing.  Here’s a taste of the interview:
CXC: Your job seems very unique to us, especially for a female. What got you into route setting in the first place? MB: I did some competing on my own and then began coaching a youth team in 1995. It was really obvious when the setting was good (as in equitable for tall or small, not bottlenecky, etc.) and when it was not. I got curious about how to set hard things that my tiny kids could reach, and so started to work on that concept by making routes for my team for practices. Near this time Tony Yaniro was in Portland going to school, and he hosted a setting clinic at one of the gyms. I was too poor to be able to attend, but asked him if we could trade: I would set for him for free at an upcoming Youth Regional Championship, if he would teach me. He agreed. I got completely worked, wrecked and schooled, and after sleeping a few days, was beyond psyched to learn more. I am constantly and profoundly grateful that he agreed to mentor me. CXC: What has it meant to be a full-time freelance route setter?  MB: It meant I had to learn how to promote myself, which was hard to do! I really do not like talking about myself – doing a good job is what is important, and should speak for itself. But that is not how the modern world works. It also meant that I had to be willing to take risks in order to find work. Cold-calling gyms for work is pretty intimidating, but I had to learn to not take ‘no’ personally. It is very interesting being the sole female in a job like mine. I would very much have liked to see more women by now. It is utterly baffling and worrisome that I have not. CXC: At their inception, the purpose of climbing gyms and indoor routes were to train for and mimic climbing outside. As the sport has progressed indoor climbing has strayed from its original purpose and in some critics opinions has become a platform for showing off wacky movement by the competitors. While this type of climbing is impressive to watch it may be widening the divide between indoor and outdoor climbing. What do you think this means for the future of climbing, both indoor and out and what are your thoughts on the direction and expectations of competition climbing? MB: I do not see this as a problem. If you look at climbing world-wide, gym climbing has already become an activity unto itself. Think about places where there is none-to-little outdoor climbing. Of course gym climbing becomes appealing. While I love to see what might be ‘new’ my ultimate goal is results. Ties suck. Bottlenecks suck. Shutting down an unusually small kid REALLY sucks. When I see these things I wince. When I am responsible for them I get angry. That said, I think comp climbing has begun to hit the ends of creativity with the current tools we have. I don’t really look at this as good or bad: it just is. It means that the tools we use will likely evolve further as people want to see more unusual things in comps, and I look forward to what that might look like! I’ll say it another way: cool moves are cool, but not at the cost of results.
Read the full interview at Crux Crush.

Biggest Gym In UK Slated

Photo: UKC News
Photo: UKC News
This September Sheffield, England will get the country’s largest climbing gym. At least that’s what is what is promised by Dave Douglas, owner of Awesome Walls.  Their newest facility will be the company’s fifth gym in the UK. Just six months after opening their Dublin location, owner Dave Douglas is pushing hard to open this new facility as soon as possible. Mr. Douglas told UKC News:
My initial thought was to start building as soon as possible to be open for Christmas 2012. Alas, this is not to be, a project of this size needs careful planning to make sure it’s a commercial success and not follow in the footsteps of two other major walls in the UK that were a bit too big for their boots! The change of usage for planning permission has been submitted, several wall manufactures have been consulted and the plans are growing more exciting by the day. If we’re going to do this in Sheffield, we have to do it right. Initially a two phase build was proposed but now this has been scrapped and we’re going for the full hit even though this will delay our opening a couple of months. Assuming planning permission is granted by the end of September we aim to be open early 2013 but we have some serious work to undertake not to mention getting AWCC Dublin open on time!
Sheffield is the epicenter of UK rock climbing and already home to three other large climbing centers including the legendary Foundry, the Edge and Climbing Works Bouldering Gym. This newest facility of Awesome Walls will conform to the British Mountaineering Council‘s new criteria for a “National Performance Centre”.  According a BMC document, “The BMC has established this process to encourage the development of climbing wall facilities capable of running national and international competitions across England and Wales.”

Welcome to Climbing Business Journal

CBJ_slider Routesetter.com is pleased to launch ClimbingBusinessJournal.com! Climbing Business Journal will provide complete coverage of the indoor rock climbing industry.  CBJ will offer news of climbing facility openings, closures and expansions, along with industry best practices, product news, coverage of climbing events and legal issues relevant to the indoor rock climbing community.  This site will serve professionals at commercial rock climbing gyms, bouldering gyms, recreation center and university climbing walls. As the indoor climbing industry has grown climbing business professionals — climbing business owners and managers, climbing coaches, routesetters, rec center administrators as well as the designers, manufacturers and salespeople at climbing wall and equipment companies — have needed a convenient way to find up to date information about their industry.  CBJ will serve up breaking news from around the internet and will create original news articles and videos.  Routesetters do not worry, CBJ will still cover the world of routesetting by offering how-to’s, hold reviews, setter profiles and comp coverage. It was not long ago when the “indoor climbing industry” was not much of an industry.  Not any longer! This sector of the health and fitness industry is growing fast, with new gyms opening every month and new companies to support those gyms popping up all across the country and the world.  Universities, colleges and community centers are filling their recreation centers with state of the art climbing walls, and these facilities are introducing the sport of climbing and bouldering to thousands of people every day. The industry is poised to become one of the most popular and economically prosperous segments of the sporting sector. We hope you find the content on this site valuable and we welcome your feedback.

New Arizona Climbing Gym

Photo: Focus Climbing
Photo: Focus Climbing
This past July in Mesa, Arizona the doors opened on one of the best designed bouldering walls in the South West.  Focus Climbing Center is a bouldering and auto-belay only facility owned and operated by one of climbing’s great personalities, Joe Czerwinski. Joe sat down (virtually) with Climbing Business Journal to talk about his design philosophy and how he wants to run a gym.

Can you describe the gym?

The building is a rectangle 138ft x 48ft, with a footprint of 6810sq/ft, and a clear height of 28ft. There is just over 5000sq/ft of wall surface that yields 120 linear feet of bouldering wall from 16ft-18ft high above a 3000sq/ft 24″ flooring system. There is 50 linear feet of full-height climbing wall with 2.5 inches of safety flooring and 6 auto belays. My t-nuts are on a 6 inch grid and are as close to the aretes/corners/angle breaks as possible. With the bouldering walls, we created an 18ft wide section of slab that mimics the left side of the USAC Nationals wall. I noticed this angle is popular for world cups, and seemed more fitting than a wall of slab only. The next unique feature is a 16ft wide-25 degree overhanging “can”. The lip of the can is 14ft above the pad and the top is perpendicular to the wall, so the lip is just hold-able, and allows for fun mantles (or terrifying mantles depending on your view). The rope climbing wall has three sections, vertical, 5 degrees overhanging (IFSC speed route), and a section that goes to about 17 degrees overhanging. Each section overhangs more than the last and provides a great visual presentation. I am short on the IFSC speed wall, but with two lanes on the speed wall, the left side is set from the start to as high as I can set. The right side was set from the end (top), down to the bottom as far as I could set. So the team never gets to run the whole route, but they climb each side backto-back. This gives them the timing for the moves and spacing, and seems to work really well so far.

Who built the walls and padding?

Leading Edge Climbing Walls built the walls, and Futurist Climbing Consultants provided the wall design and flooring system. Leading Edge was great, faster and cheaper than our contract which seems a-typical of the industry. Due to my experience with route setting, I worked closely with Tim Fairfield and Futurist Climbing Consultants on the wall design. Overall, I am really psyched with the end product.

How many staff and routesetters?

I am slightly overstaffed right now, but a few of my staff are former climbing team members and attend college out of state. Once we near the fall semester of school, my staff will be right around 4-5 with a Lead and Assistant Manager. I have one other coach to assist with the junior program. I have two other route setters besides myself. I have not had much time to try and route set as running the gym is more intensive than anticipated, and I have put the rest of my time toward coaching. With my setters, I have solid guys. I have a lot of confidence in them, as they can set for kids/short reaches really well and in any style needed.

Who is your core customer?

We are collegiate bouldering gym. My target customers are undergraduate students 18-25 years old.

How much did the whole project cost?

Photo: Focus Climbing
Photo: Focus Climbing

Why Mesa, Arizona?

Mesa……well it’s where the best building was located. I had a spot in North Scottsdale (about 20 minutes north), that I was really psyched on, and the model was a programming gym- similar to a gymnastics facility. However, I found the Mesa location- it was a better price and a no-brainer collegiate bouldering gym with ASU 4.5 miles away. It has fast freeway access and is more central to the highest density of population within my 20 minute radius.

Your website states that you are “setting the new standard for climbing gyms”. How?

With 19 years in the industry, and the experience I have with setting and coaching, I have had the opportunity to see what I like (and don’t like) about every facility I have ever been to. If another facility had a great “wheel”, I made sure not to re-invent it. I don’t really look at is as the “new standard”, but trying to improve on what is already out there, and not create the same pitfalls. The beginning is the correct flooring system. I see more and more facilities with bouldering walls 14-16ft high, if not higher. I have been on a lot of seamless flooring systems, and I feel the system at Focus is the best. I would encourage every new gym owner to go with the same system Focus has (24-inch 16ILD), even with 16ft walls at the highest. My customers are beyond psyched with this flooring system. We went with a radical design in terms of height and steepness. It was designed for the future, not what has been built in the past. I have noticed many beginners want to climb on the steeper parts of top-rope walls and bouldering areas. So we made a ton of steep terrain and ordered a ton of jugs. I put the pressure on the route setting staff to produce easy terrain and it has worked perfectly. Another part is the layout of the warehouse space. The wall design is not overbuilt, and allows space for customers to occupy without being in the way of everyone who is climbing. The wide open design fosters community as the layout does not segregate the climbers into different areas. Gyms are about having fun and community, and I think bouldering areas with different caves or sections can limit that community building. This design creates an easier space to manage from a safety aspect as well. From the office space, I can see nearly all of my terrain and customers without obstructions. An additional layout perk is the ability to host bigger competitions. Approximately 50 feet of bleachers can be rolled in front of the bouldering walls to accommodate larger crowd size.
Photo: Focus Climbing
Photo: Focus Climbing
Another notable feature: there is nothing to absorb odor in the facility- all the padding is vinyl, and everything else is cement. Carpet inside gyms tends to smell like feet after a year or two, and I never want Focus to smell like a climbing gym. I use a cleaning service 7 days a week and the place looks like gold in the morning. FREE CHALK. Yes, free chalk. Since there are no chalk bags or buckets are allowed on the pads, we provide free chalk to all of the climbers in the gym (waist belt chalk bags are fine to wear). There are three gymnastic style chalk bowls across the front of the pad, and 6 buckets screwed onto the base of the wall out of the way of problems. I have only heard positive comments about this. I decided to eliminate top-ropes and use all auto belays. I have noticed most people don’t care to learn knots or bother with belaying, they just want to climb. Instead of belaying, their partner is chilling on a Madrock beanbag. In the end, it fosters more interaction with climbers in the auto-belay area as belayers don’t have to pay attention- because there are no belayers. Everyone is doing what they really want to do, hanging out in a social atmosphere and climbing. Some small things that make a difference with the overall experience:
  • Ratings at the top of the climb so you can see them without getting under the walls
  • Rental shoes NOT at the front desk
  • Complimentary coffee bar
  • Free Wifi
  • Cold AC
  • Electronic and online waiver system though Rock Gym Pro
  • I spend the extra $4 for a case of Charmin.

Your website also mentions that “It was designed to minimize injury.” What are the details behind this?

Our dedication to safety starts with a flooring system that is (in my opinion) unmatched in the industry. This system comes with proper falling training procedures and fall clinics for the staff and members. Additionally, every new customer is given a free fall orientation in order to minimize chance for injury. Over 70% of bouldering injuries are related to the edges or gaps between the pads, and this system eliminates those chances for injury. Futurist made sure there is enough pad to cover the landing zones. The minimum amount of coverage we have is 11.5ft from the most overhanging point, and 6ft from the arêtes. With the open wall design, we eliminated nearly all intersecting fall zones. This was priority for me as it significantly lowers the feeling of “being in the way” when you just want to sit and rest. In looking at other gym designs, I felt this was something many wall companies are not concerned with because it limits the amount of wall they can install in a gym. For example, I could have made several “U” shaped coves and packed in more wall sq/ft, but at what cost? In the end- I built a gym that I want to climb in, and run a gym how I feel is right, and treat people how I would want to be treated.

Video: Central Rock gym

Massachusetts based, Central Rock Gym has opened their third location in Watertown, Mass this July. This new facility has a massive 28,000 square feet of climbing and is one of the most modern climbing gyms in the country. Learn more about Central Rock Gym in this video tour of the new gym.

Should You Spot? Maybe Not.

Photo: touchstoneclimbing.blogspot.com
During a typical evening bouldering session at any climbing gym in the country one will find many people sitting on the ground around a boulder while a climber attempts to throw themselves up their latest plastic project. Many climbers find this scene absolutely irresponsible and reckless; people should be spotting each other when bouldering! Well, in modern gyms it seems they shouldn’t. The Climbing Wall Association has put out an excellent article on the effectiveness of spotting within bouldering areas. They conclude that in facilities that offer sufficient padding, spotting is unnecessary and can actually hamper the effectiveness of the padding leading to more injuries than would otherwise occur.
In order to examine spotting in its proper context, we must first understand its purpose. When asked, our industry experts unanimously defined spotting as a means to protect a climber’s head and neck from impact with the ground/floor. “Spotting is for the purpose of protecting the head and neck area. In 25 years of operating climbing gyms I have never seen a head injury in a gym while bouldering. For the life of me I cannot figure out why you would need to spot anyone with 12 inches of foam as the landing surface. Spotting will never eliminate broken ankles and wrists. It is not designed for that,” said Rich Johnston of Vertical World in Seattle. Utilizing this definition and context, we can infer that spotting in an indoor bouldering environment is not primarily intended to prevent ankle and wrist injury (two of the most common indoor bouldering injuries). With the exception of specific circumstances, systematically spotting boulderers is not recommended in facilities properly equipped with new generation bouldering flooring systems that offer bouldering gymnastic falling technique orientation and instruction for the following reasons:
  1. Bouldering onlookers crowded in close proximity to a climberʼs landing zone may cause pinning resulting in deactivation of the flooring systemʼs ability to properly absorb the impact force of a falling climber.
  2. The presence of a spotter introduces the possibility of a collision with a hard foreign object, which is one of the leading causes of injuries in bouldering areas.
  3. Spotters who are not properly trained (similarly to gymnastics coaches & martial arts instructors) may potentially cause more harm than protection to a falling boulderer. From Climbing Bouldering Techniques (excerpted from The Art of Falling – bouldering orientation video).
Though its primary purpose is to mitigate head, neck, and spinal injury (which are less likely in an indoor setting), there are some instances where spotting may be appropriate for alternate purposes. Timy Fairfield of Futurist Flooring Systems says, “It is advisable that specific circumstances requiring spotting should be considered before attempting every boulder problem to determine if having a spotter is preferable. Bouldering participants should identify potentially dangerous moves that could result in joint locking, over rotation or inversion in the event of a fall before spotting or attempting a boulder problem. Potentially dangerous moves that could result in joint locking, overrotation and possible inversion of the climber in the event of a fall include:
  1. Horizontal Roof Climbing
  2. Overhead foot placements
  3. High heel hooks/heel hooks on in-cut holds
  4. Foot cams/toe cams between 2 holds”
“In most climbing gyms, there is not a spotting program that goes far enough in teaching how to spot a climber adequately. There are only a few situations in a bouldering area, such as a steep cave that is low to the ground, where someone can safely spot someone. Once a climber is higher on wall, it’s safer for the spotter to stay out of the way, unless they are very skilled at spotting. It’s a lot more than just catching someone coming off the wall. It’s a matter of redirecting them to land on a safe part of the body” said, Mike Palmer of Cascade Specialty. Possible topics covered in a spotting orientation may include, but are not limited to climber preference for a spotter, flooring type, fall zones, technique, awareness of the climber, awareness of difficult moves on the boulder problem, height of climber, and pitch of the route. Proper orientations should leave the climber with knowledge of why to spot, when to spot, and how to spot properly. If orientations do not achieve this, the opportunities for injury may be larger than if the orientation were omitted altogether. Most gym managers will weigh the facility design, flooring, time/staff commitments, efficiency, customer perception, and implications when considering the implementation of a spotting orientation. While the omission of orientation can be permissible for spotting, it does not apply in top rope or lead climbing scenarios. In our experience, the many considerations involved in spotting orientations implementation frequently result in their omission based on the risks versus the benefits. Even when spotting is used in the correct context, there are many effects to consider. Can the climber’s momentum injure the prospective spotter, adding to facility liability? Aaron Stevens from Climb Iowa weighs in: “In an indoor climbing facility, I think it is FAR more important to talk about how to fall properly than how to spot. People don’t really spot even when you take the time to tell them about it. Most bouldering accidents can be reduced from a falling demonstration rather than a spotting demonstration. In my opinion, by teaching and telling people about spotting you are increasing the likelihood that someone will get injured. By teaching proper falling techniques, you are decreasing that risk.”
Photo: momentumclimbing.com
Alternatives If you choose not to introduce spotting to new climbers, then what should be implemented in its place, if anything? The near unanimous recommendation from our panel is to introduce proper falling technique. Mike Palmer of Cascade Specialty advocates for mandatory falling education for new climbers: “On the practice of an orientation in the bouldering area, I think it should include falling instruction. This will also reduce injuries, and hopefully shield gyms from some liability. I also think spotting is very overrated. There are very few people qualified to spot properly. Letting a novice spot someone is dangerous to the climber and the spotter. The effort would be better spent on falling education. Why not require it like a belay test?” The CWA concludes: Per our industry experts, the practice of spotting in indoor bouldering areas should be reserved for special cases in which spotting may be favored over climber ground falls. Given the brief nature of most facility orientations, it could be inferred that these special cases may not fall into the scope of mandatory orientations. This leads us to two possible methods of addressing this topic:
  1. Implement a robust spotting orientation that addresses all of the purposes, considerations, and special cases involved in spotting.
  2. Omit spotting orientations from facilities on the grounds that spotting may not be necessary except under special circumstances.
When implementing any new process, the CWA encourages gym owners to understand the purpose, commitments, and implications of such processes. If implementing a spotting program, facilities should ensure that the orientation meets its intended purpose: minimizing injury and facility liability. If omitting spotting orientations, facilities could choose to include bouldering orientation language covering falling technique. This was the most popular recommendation from industry experts for the purposes of minimizing liability (not adding a second person to a potential fall situation) and addressing the most common types of indoor bouldering injuries (ankle and wrist).
Read the full article at the Climbing Wall Association.

Worlds Biggest Climbing Structure

Photo: wvgazette.com
  Eldorado Climbing Walls, is reporting the completion of the world’s largest man-made rock climbing structure. Built at the Boy Scouts of America’s extreme sports village in the Bechtel Summit Reserve in West Virginia, this climbing facility will be unveiled at the BSA’s 2013 National Jamboree. With a total of 60,000 square feet of rock climbing terrain, the climbing facility is divided into two areas: The Rocks and Boulder Cove. All climbing terrain is constructed from Eldorado’s SHOTRock product and entirely hand-sculpted to mimic the local rock styles and climbing features of the New River Gorge. “We are honored to have been selected by the Boy Scouts of America to complete a project of this massive scope and size,” said Jerad Wells, CEO of Eldorado Climbing Walls. He continues, “The climbing facility at The Rocks and Boulder Cove truly showcase the amazing climbing wall design and climbing wall construction capabilities of our team. We look forward to seeing this facility inspire a love of rock climbing in current and future generations of Scouts.” The rock climbing area is dedicated specifically to the Scouts during the Jamboree. The most unique element of this massive climbing area is the “Leap of Faith,” where participants leap into the air from a height of 32 feet and are safely lowered to the ground by the TRUBLUE Auto Belay. Other features include:
  • Two rappelling towers with a total of 36 rappelling stations at a height of 32 feet (6 stations are dedicated “leap of faith” stations).
  • Three climbing fins with 68 manual belay stations at heights from 21-30 feet.
  • Two climbing fins with 33 TRUBLUE Auto Belay stations at heights from 25-35 feet.
  • One 25-foot high climbing fin with 8 climbing stations (6 manual, 2 auto-belay).
  • Six freestanding boulders with over 50 stations and an average height of ten feet.
Boulder Cove incorporates over 280 linear feet of rock climbing walls ranging for 19’ to 36’ in height. In this area, the Scouts and their families can enjoy the following features together:
  • 12 TRUBLUE Auto Belay rappel stations.
  • 72’ linear foot rappel deck
  • 25 TRUBLUE Auto Belay backed up climbing stations.
  • Three distinct boulders averaging 13’ in height.
Photo: eldowalls.com
Following the Jamboree, the Bechtel Summit Reserve and the climbing facility will be open to scouting trips and retreats. The Bechtel Summit will continue to host the US Jamboree every year, and plans are in the making to host the World Jamboree in 2019. Read the full press release at Eldowalls.com

Indoor Climbing Injury Stats

Originally posted at Athletic Business Journal
Photo: athleticbusiness.com
Research suggests that an estimated 9 million people enjoy some form of rock climbing each year. As a result of the increased number, researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital conducted a study specific to the sport and its injuries. The study found that there was a 63 percent increase in the number of patients seen in the nation’s emergency rooms between 1990 and 2007. That translates to an estimated 40,282 individuals between the ages of 2 and 74 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for climbing-related injuries. They found that ankle and foot fractures, sprains and strains were among the most common types of climbing-related injuries, and the majority of them resulted from falls of 20 feet or more. Although this particular study did not include injuries that occurred to participants while mountain climbing or hiking, results did extend beyond the scope of fitness and recreation facilities to include walls at child-care centers, schools, amusement parks, campgrounds and other locations. Climbing injuries are a given, says Bill Zimmerman, executive director of the Boulder, Colo.-based Climbing Wall Association, and they’re most often the result of “pilot error” — an individual making a mistake. Significant differences exist between indoor and outdoor climbing environments and their levels of risk, but indoor facility owners still can “control what they can control,” Zimmerman adds, through practical risk-management procedures such as employee orientation, instruction and assessment. “What’s incumbent upon you, as an operator of a climbing wall, is to make sure that your staff is trained and experienced in climbing techniques and procedures — and that your employees stay up to date with those techniques and procedures,” he says. “Somebody will spend $1 million on a climbing wall and won’t spend $10,000 or $20,000 on training and development for their staff. That’s my frustration with this whole business.” All major full-service climbing wall manufacturers provide training for facility employees, as do most local climbing gyms, Zimmerman says. If budgets are tight, managers should consider sending only one employee to a training session, and that individual then can educate other staff members. As climbing continues its ascent among recreation activities — nearly five million people climbed indoors in 2008, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association — staff and user education will take on even greater importance. “Initially, rock climbing was a sport for risk takers and adrenaline junkies, and now it’s much more mainstream,” says Lara McKenzie, senior author of the injury study, which was published in the September online issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. “So the demographics have shifted, and recreational climbers may be younger and more inexperienced.” Zimmerman suggests that greater oversight of a climbing structure is especially necessary in facilities such as health clubs, YMCAs, and college and municipal recreation centers — places in which climbing is “incidental” to other operations. “Who knows what kind of resources are allocated to that big climbing wall in the lobby?” he asks. “Who knows if there is a full-time staff member responsible for it?” While not de-emphasizing the importance of the latest injury study, Zimmerman remains skeptical of research that paints climbing with a broad brush. “The fact of the matter is that climbing is pretty innocuous, and generalizations made about climbing are going to be somewhat specious,” he says. “This kind of study is a good surveillance tool,” McKenzie maintains. “It lets us know what types of injuries are occurring, who is being hurt and what they were doing when they got hurt. And it gives us a nice jumping off point to open up the discussion. Now that we’ve identified the types of injuries, we might be able to look more closely at what we can do to prevent them.”
Infographic: Dyneema 360

New Gear for Expecting Moms

Pregnant rock climbers of the world rejoice! Mountain Mama, Inc, the outdoor outfitter for expectant mothers, now offers a full-body climbing harness made by Mad Rock, specially designed for the unique geometry of pregnant bodies. From Mountain Mama press release:
The innovative molded padded leg loops are combined with an “X”-Strap design at mid-back that supports and cradles the torso with wide, flexible webbing. An open design through the midsection accommodates a growing belly without bunching or squeezing, while side webbing connects low and away from the chest to allow a full-range of arm motion.  Fully adjustable shoulder straps and leg loops ensure a precise fit, and tie-in at the sternum keeps everything upright. Flexible equipment loops at the sides keep gear at easy reach.
Photo: mountain-mama.com
Pregnant climbing women may be a niche market in the climbing industry.  But as climbing gyms become a more popular form of recreation and exercise you can be sure more mothers-to-be will be hitting the wall and will need a harness that is made for them.

Parks Add Climbing Structures

photo: Entre-Prises

Originally posted at AthleticBusiness.com By Emily Attwood
Parks and green spaces have been lauded as the keys to improving public health, combating childhood obesity and addressing our nation’s sedentary lifestyle crisis. Numerous studies have shown that access to parks and green spaces correlates to overall health. But access doesn’t necessarily correlate to use. Today’s playgrounds have been criticized for being too safe and boring, not to mention unappealing to anyone over the age of 10. Playground equipment manufacturers are building greater levels of risk into their equipment, and outdoor fitness equipment aimed at adults is growing in popularity. As parks and recreation departments look for more ways to lure people into green spaces and get them active, many are finding solutions in climbing and bouldering structures. Despite its proximity to natural climbing opportunities, the city of Bozeman, Mont., has five boulders in parks throughout the city. “We are an outdoors, athletically oriented community,” explains parks superintendent Thom White. “We have ski mountains and climbing boulders within 25 minutes of the city, but what do we do in town?”
Photo: outsidebozeman.com
Photo: outsidebozeman.com
The Bozeman Boulders Initiative started nearly 10 years ago with a group of local climbers applying for the city’s Park Improvement Grant program to construct a series of boulders. “The idea was that you could go to every quadrant in the city via the trail system and climb a boulder,” says White. “You can go to your local park and get a good workout in. You’re not having to invest half your day.” Ten years ago, climbing might just have been the latest trend, but it’s taken hold in gyms and recreation centers across the country. “It’s a great activity for kids and adults,” says Jason Stollenwerk, managing director of Entre-Prises Climbing Walls in Bend, Ore. “A climbing wall is different than a typical slide or other playground equipment. It encourages children to do something that they can naturally do: climb. It’s amazing how quickly they take to it.” Also unlike most playground equipment, it’s not just children who enjoy climbing structures. “Kids are going to the park, but their parents are the ones taking them there,” Stollenwerk adds. The boulders in Bozeman, designed by a local metal fabrication company, include both easier routes aimed at kids, as well as more difficult routes to appeal to adults. In Bozeman, where climbing is as natural a sport as soccer or football, gaining support for a climbing structure wasn’t difficult. “There was a little hesitation, but once the first one went in, it was a slam dunk,” says White. Not all communities are as quick to climb on board with such a project, however. “Safety is obviously the biggest thing people are concerned about,” Stollenwerk says. “It’s new to them. They tell me, ‘We’ve seen these climbing structures at other parks, but we’ve never had them. Is it safe? Can anyone use it? Can we leave it open at all times?’ ” Despite the increased sense of risk associated with climbing, such structures are generally no more dangerous than any other piece of playground equipment. “We treat it like a piece of playground equipment,” says White. “It’s just another item in the park that’s attractive to someone. At some of our smaller playgrounds, the subdivisions are looking at adding them.” Most communities opt for climbing boulders and walls around 10 feet in height, making them subject to the same ASTM International building standards as other playground equipment when it comes to fall zones and shock-absorbing surface materials. “It’s no different than having your feet hanging over the monkey bars,” says Rasch. “We’ve done a handful of college campuses that want to have a climbing boulder but are worried about liability, since it’s unsupervised. It’s unsupervised just as a playground would be. A user’s feet aren’t going that high off the ground, and if they are, it’s within standard playground height.”
photo: Metro Parks Ohio
While most parks departments do play it safe with a structure in the 10-foot range, there are those that opt to go bigger. “There are parks departments that have done taller projects that are very successful,” says Stollenwerk. “It’s pretty unique to be able to do that.” The largest free outdoor climbing wall in the country is at Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus, Ohio, where towers and arches soar to 35 feet and draw climbers from across the nation.