The University of Calgary Climbing Wall
The Concrete Jungle
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,