Getting a grip on climbing

Oct 1 2013 - 12:12pm

Images

(KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
Jackie Russell climbs at the Front Climbing Club in Ogden.
(KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
A member of the Front Climbing Club climbs on the 22nd Street cliff along the Schoolroom Wall.
(Standard-Examiner file photo)
Shad Burnham climbs the ice fall in Waterfall Canyon in January.
(KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
Jackie Russell climbs at the Front Climbing Club in Ogden.
(KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
A member of the Front Climbing Club climbs on the 22nd Street cliff along the Schoolroom Wall.
(Standard-Examiner file photo)
Shad Burnham climbs the ice fall in Waterfall Canyon in January.

OGDEN -- Ogden offers climbing opportunities for people of all skills -- whether it's bouldering, lead climbing, trad or ice climbing.

Shad Burnham, manager of the Front Climbing Club, said Ogden's mountains and cliffs are littered with routes -- in the valley or along Ogden's east bench -- for those just beginning and for the advanced.

Some favorite spots near downtown include the Schoolroom Wall and the 9th Street cliff.

"That's the highest concentration over there," Burnham said.

The skilled climber reminds Utahns that Ogden is a hot spot for rock climbing, and the state offers hundreds, if not thousands, of scenic and challenging routes.

Burnham adds that Ogden is the place where ice climbing was founded.

"Europeans have been mountaineering for years, but it wasn't until the Lowe brothers wanted to climb ice just for the sake of climbing ice that it was kind of born here," he said. "Up until then, people had been doing low engineering climbing, but these guys figured out you can climb steep vertical ice for fun."

Jeff Lowe, from Ogden, was one of the first recreational climbers in the 1960s. He and his brother, Greg Lowe, are known for making the first ascents up the U.S. and Canadian Rockies, Alps and Himalayas.

Jeff Lowe first ice climbed up Malan's Waterfall in Waterfall Canyon below Mount Ogden. Burnham said it's beautiful and offers historical value.

"It's a really great climb," he said. "It's in our backyard, and it's just a hike away from the trailhead."

Those interested in boulder climbing -- where gear is not used -- can find 5-foot- to 20-foot-tall boulders along the 22nd to 27th street Schoolroom Wall. Burnham said this is a good place for beginners. He also suggests the Utah Wall in Ogden Canyon.

"Ogden Canyon has the highest concentration of beginner climbing," Burnham said. "The first couple miles of the canyon is where most of the climbing is."

If you're looking to venture outside of Ogden, Burnham suggests Logan Canyon, the City of Rocks in Idaho, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons in Salt Lake, American Fork Canyon, Maple Canyon and unexplored territory in Southern Utah's West Desert. He also suggests Joe's Valley for boulder climbing and Provo Canyon for ice climbing.

Burnham reminds people who are new to the sport to seek out a guide for the right instruction.

"Taking the time to learn to climb safely the correct way from trained professionals is every bit as important as if you were going skydiving or any other type of adventurous sport," Burnham said. "There are a lot of things that can go wrong in climbing and being aware of those things is super important."

Gyms like Front Climbing Club offer walls and training facilities with professionals who can teach people how to do it safely and correctly.

"You just need to slowly get into it and we want to help people slowly build up those skills to be able to go do anything," Burnham said. "Yeah, we're inside, it's a gym, but the concepts are all the same, so if you can really build up that base underneath you: safety, the skills -- then everything else starts coming really quickly."

Contact reporter Kelly Keiter at 801-625-4218 or kkeiter@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @kkeiter.

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