The Univer­sity of Cal­gary Climb­ing Wall

The Con­crete Jun­gle

Gripped - - STORY -

The Univer­sity of Cal­gary climb­ing wall was built in 1986 for the 1988 Cal­gar y Olympics. It was part of the Out­door Cen­tre which was the f irst pub­lic, spor t climb­ing wall in the cit y. The in­door climb­ing fa­cilit y has both a Climb­ing Wall and Boul­der­ing Wall. Both climb­ing str uc­tures are open to stu­dents, staf f, fac­ult y, alumni and the gen­eral pub­lic. The con­cept was the brain­child of Mur­ray Toft.

The boul­der ing area was ahead of it s t i me, but the main cl imb­ing wal l is what in­spired mid- 80 s cl i mbers to t ra in in­doors. The ver t ica l wal ls are made of con­crete slabs, spaced at dif fer­ent widths. The space bet ween the slabs of stone make for per­fect cracks to cl i mb. Ever y crack size is ava i lable, f rom f in­gers to of f-widths. Two slabs make for the f ir st ha l f of one wal l. Em­bed­ded into the con­crete are rea l rocks, f rom cr impy pieces of g ra nite to slopey l ime­stone and f rom jugg y metamor phic sidepu l ls to quar tz jug s. The cre­ator s of the wal l must have had f un de­cid ing where to put what rocks as there are a num­ber of a l l-nat ura l cl i mbs.

At one point in time, climbers could lead climb the cracks with a rack of cams. Old forged Fr iends can be seen wedged in the back of some of the cracks. Fixed gear in an in­door crack? Who would have thought? As new walls are made of softer, lighter mater ials, the idea of whip­ping onto a cam is un­heard of, but in 1988 it was com­mon prac­tice in Cal­gar y.

Lo­cal Cal­gar y Moun­tain Club climbers would gather a few nights of the week to train for the lo­cal moun­tains. Even stil l, a small group meets on Mon­day night. Andy Genereux, Urs Kallen, Tim Fr iesen and Pa­ter Gatzsch are reg­u­lars. As the new-age plas­tic g ym­nas­tic-st yle climbers climb the poly holds, the old cm­cers refuse to climb them. In­stead, they stick to the old-school routes they have been climb­ing for years. Sevent y-year-old Kallen can be found min­gling with the younger climbers, shar ing worlds of wis­dom from 25 years of climb­ing jam­ming the cracks in the small,

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