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Physical Peak
Rock-climbing builds the brain and the body.

By JONATHON BRADEN of the Tribune’s staff
 
As his body meandered from rock to rock, Aaron Olson’s chalky hands tucked inside the rocks’ holes along an indoor rock climbing wall.

His fingers and feet sustained his presence on the rock-littered wall as his sweaty, bare torso dangled inches from the heavily padded floor. The 21-year-old’s head moved like a quarterback looking for an open receiver - always searching for the next rock.

The University of Missouri senior was bouldering - rock climbing indoors on shorter walls - at the Bouldering Garden on St. Charles Road east of Columbia.


"It’s kind of like proving to your body that you can do a lot more than you think you can do - getting past these big physical barriers and mental barriers that you think you have," Olson said. "But you can really push through a lot of them."

Rock climbing challenges people in unique ways, Olson said. It’s an activity in which the body’s core is vital for success, but the forearms will be the first to yield. It requires enormous trust in a partner’s ability. It is also a sport that’s relatively low-key in Columbia, rock climbers said. But once people climb, they tend to climb again.

"I got up on the wall, and I found out I didn’t want to be anywhere else," said Andrew Maerz, a doctoral chemistry student at MU who’s been climbing for almost five years.

Olson watches Andrew Maerz climb to the roof at the Bouldering Garden.

Rock climbing, at its most basic form, is different than other sports or activities. Like other extreme sports, there is no designated or official field. And similar to other niche communities or sports, each participant plays the role of ambassador.

"It’s a cool place to guide someone through in that epic moment for them," said Luke Miedema of Columbia. "It’s fun to see people conquer those things and those battles."

There are a number of options for climbers, but the most common method is top rope, in which the rope goes from the belayer to the top of the climb and then to the climber. The belayer controls the amount of slack the climber receives and stands at the bottom of the route.

Miedema’s brother Eric, a sophomore industrial engineering major at MU, said frustration and problem-solving reign in rock climbing.

"It’s kind of like a puzzle combined with strength and being in shape," Eric Miedema said. "It’s not a good climbing day if you don’t get" frustrated.

Eric Miedema completed a 21-day climbing course in the Rocky Mountains with the National Outdoor Leadership School that involved developing and teaching climbing skills and philosophy.

Drew Fowler, a doctoral chemistry student at MU, recently joined Maerz for his first night of bouldering.

"This is completely different," said Fowler, 23, who’s played more traditional sports such as basketball and football in the past. "My fingers have been hurting since I got here."

Maerz, 22, played soccer at Hickman High School. "I guess I was in pretty good shape," he said. "But then I started this, and I gained 15 pounds of muscle in two months."

Rock climbing is not just for the young, though. "A climber can climb his or her entire life," said Marcus Floyd, owner of the Bouldering Garden. Floyd, 34, has operated the bouldering facility since 1993.

Finding places to climb around Columbia is easier than ascending from rock to rock, the Miedema brothers said. Folks can climb bluffs along the Missouri River and the Katy Trail, at Capen Park on Capen Park Drive near MU, the 60-foot Alpine Tower on the MU campus and the 42-foot Scroggs Peak at MU’s Student Recreation Complex.

Floyd offers two rock-climbing courses: a one-night beginner’s course that costs $25 and a four-week course for climbers that costs $225.

"A lot of people think that before you start to rock climb, you need to work out muscle groups," Floyd said. "This isn’t a cliquey crowd. The best way to begin to experience the joys of rock climbing is to decide you’re going to climb and just start."

"It’s kind of like this whole idea of using a certain number of holds, finding a sequence of the rocks and combating your fears of height and trusting your partner," said Olson... "It’s kind of all these new mental aspects that transfer over into other areas of your life."

 

Rock Bridge students reaching new heights

 
By CORY de VERA of the Tribune’s staff
Published Saturday, March 2, 2002

A couple of times a week, if you know where to go, you can find students at Rock Bridge High School climbing the walls.

But it isn’t because they are particularly stressed out. Scores of students recently have discovered the school’s specially constructed rock-climbing wall.

Mark Schiefelbein photo
Sophomore Jalyn Davis, left, junior Todd Huhman and sophomore Dan Jennings work their way across the rock-climbing wall at Rock Bridge High School.

"Each time they get on the wall their balance improves, their self-esteem improves," coach Stephen Moore said. "It is a complete mental and physical challenge."

Moore and his friend Marcus Floyd - owner of the indoor climbing gym on St. Charles Road - received a grant of about $8,000 three years ago to construct the Rock Bridge wall behind the stage in the school’s gymnasium. It took the two men about three months to design and install the color-coded rocks that span the wall. Climbers use the special rocks for grabs and toeholds.

Then Moore started offering rock climbing as part of his outdoor-conditioning class, which also covers nontraditional sports such as fly fishing and mountain biking. The class has limited enrollment, and Moore said the wall - which is behind closed stage curtains - has been a well-kept secret for two years.

Mark Schiefelbein photo
Rock Bridge High School senior Brian Harris tries to figure out his next move on the climbing wall on the stage in the school's gymnasium.

Nicole Salane signed up for Moore’s class because she loved bike riding, but she soon discovered how much fun rock climbing is. She was one of a group of students who organized an after-school club in January. About 60 students signed up.

"We thought it would be good for people not taking the class," Salane said. "Anyone can learn to like it."

"I’m addicted to it," said student Nini Amiridze, who said the activity is helping her keep in shape.

Bryan Harris said he had been climbing for about two years, discovering it with his father after his father taught him rappelling. "I just love the challenge of looking up at a really large cliff or rock and getting over it," he said.

Climbers of different abilities can use the wall; the different rock colors represent routes of various difficulty.

During the first few sessions, Moore taught students how to wear safety harnesses for vertical climbs, how to spot one another and other basics. Thick mattresses cover the floor, offering a soft landing for anyone who falls.


 

 

Reaching the Peak

    Upward bound Marcus Floyd built indoor climbing walls for Rock Bridge High School, the YMCAs in both Jefferson City and O’Fallon, and an outdoor wall in St. Louis. At 30 years old, Marcus has been climbing for most of his life and has been building walls for more than 12 years. Marcus runs the only privately owned, indoor climbing facility in the Columbia area. Located off Interstate 70 at the Lake of the Woods Road exit, the Columbia Climbing Gym is home to some of Marcus’ earliest experiments in climbing-wall construction since 1991, when the store opened. “You want to make it look and feel as real as possible,” Marcus says in a voice that could make ‘Hey, you’re about to plummet to your death’ sound soothing. Yet unlike the real thing, there is little risk of injury at the CCG. The floor is well-padded, and any fall would be less than 15 feet, so neither a rope nor a spotter is necessary. Marcus teaches beginning and intermediate climbing classes, so helpful advice is always available.
 
    As head of the School of Outdoor Learning, Marcus’ goal is to get people off the wall and onto the mountains of Missouri where they can experience the real thing. His bouldering wall is just a taste of what’s out there, but he has made it as realistic as possible. “Missouri has a wide diversity of rock,” Marcus says, “from granite to volcanic to limestone to red and white sandstone.” Some of that geological diversity can be found on the walls Marcus builds. He constructs his own holds by drilling into actual rock; half the walls at the CCG are made of rocks like the ones Marcus references: limestone and sandstone. “They feel cold and real,” Marcus says. “God made these holds.” The peak The goal of indoor climbing is to build and maintain strength and balance. Constructing a climbing wall might be intense for someone who has never hung above ground for longer than gravity will allow, but “the trick,” Marcus says, “is to make it convenient and routine.” How much use a wall gets will depend on the level of satisfaction it brings to the user. And what could be more satisfying than reaching the peak of a mountain, even if it is only 15 feet high?

 

Business Climbing To Success

Story ran on August 09, 1996

Elena Diaz will always be grateful that Marcus Floyd taught her 10-year-old son how to hang upside down from the ceiling.

Other mothers might express similar appreciation if their children found a mentor to teach them chess, or maybe painting. But Diaz knew her son Mike was determined to become a rock climber. When she found out that Floyd, owner of Metamorphic Forms Indoor Climbing Gym, stresses safety in his classes, she
knew she could relax.

``I don't really worry, '' she says, ``because I know Marcus has taught him well.''

The sense of security people get from indoor climbing gyms has contributed to the growing popularity of such facilities, according to Alan Gentry of the Climbing Gym Association in Boulder, Colo.

``Climbing outside for the first time can be scary,'' he says. ``A lot of people want to get the hang of it first in a controlled environment where they can learn from a qualified instructor.''

The number of gyms listed with the association has grown from 67 in 1994 to 180 in 1996, Gentry says. He estimates that 80 percent of all U.S. climbing gyms are registered with the association.

Floyd opened his gym in 1991, well before the sport became widespread. He still has the only privately owned facility in Columbia that is completely devoted to indoor rock climbing.

His clients range from people who climb exclusively indoors to those who only want to maintain their skills on the days they can't be outside. Newcomers to the gym often become addicted after their first try, he says. ``Almost everyone who comes through the door leaves with a lot of enthusiasm for the sport.''

The 3,000-square-foot facility is located in a strip mall on St. Charles Road. It features walls that slant at angles of 15, 45 and 90 degrees. Bolted to these surfaces are stones that Floyd gathered from area creeks as well synthetic rocks designed to be used as hand- and toe-holds. There are also a number of realistic touches, such as the sandpaper-like finish on one set of panels that mimics the sandstone surfaces found on outdoor climbing sites in the West.

Floyd is an avid climber and views the gym as an investment that lets him keep up his skills year-round. It is open only in the evening hours so the 23-year-old can continue to work his day job with his father's fencing company. ``It more than doubles my income,'' he says, then adds with a grin, ``But I don't make that much.''

Floyd charges $15 a year for a membership plus a nominal per-visit charge. He hands out keys to many of his customers so they can come and go as they please. Between ascents, clients hang out in the front room, flipping through climbing magazines and swapping tales of their latest outdoor feats.

Steve Hollis, a social worker who climbs in his spare time, comes to Floyd's gym when he's looking for a break from the uncertainties of the great outdoors. At the gym, he doesn't have to worry about falling great distances, Hollis says, and the chances of breaking off a finger- or toe-hold are less.

``Psychologically,'' he says. ``It's a whole different thing.

Floyd offers a number of classes for beginners, ranging from $45 to $65. He estimates that 80 percent of his new students can pick up the basics in one month. ``When you get past the technical aspects, it's just experience, going out and doing it,'' he says.

Justin Whitney, a local college student, agrees. At Metamorphic Forms, he learned the rudimentary aspects of climbing in just a few weeks. ``They say I picked it up pretty fast,'' he says with a grin.

Whitney discovered the gym by accident when some friend brought him there late one night last year. ``I showed up the next day and said I wanted to join,'' he says. ``I liked it so much I was in three or four times a week.''

Whitney recently accompanied Floyd on an outdoor climbing trip to Devil's Tower, an 800-foot rock in northeast Wyoming. Although that trip wasn't part of his business, Floyd does lead group expeditions to local and out-of-state climbing sites. He doesn't have a favorite outdoor spot, he says; anywhere above 10,000 feet is great. ``You breathe differently up there.''

Floyd especially enjoys introducing indoor climbing to young people. In February, a physical education teacher at Rock Bridge Elementary School brought 40 children to the gym for a beginning session. ``They just go and go and go,'' Floyd says.

Fifteen of those kids returned for more advanced sessions. One was Mike Diaz, who has since become a regular at the gym. ``I'm the youngest climber at the gym. I get a lot of attention,'' says Mike, tightening a harness around his waist that sags from the weight of a dozen metal carbiners.

With his younger clientele, Floyd is strict about safety. He requires them to wear a rope when they are climbing on the ceiling and to have a spotter -- someone standing below who can help them out if they get hung up on a wall. The floor of the gym is lined with cushy pads that are two times as thick as a gymnastics mat.

``It is in some ways no more dangerous than a playground,'' Floyd says, ``and there's better supervision here.''

Elena Diaz appreciates that Floyd is always watching her son. Still, she often stays throughout the sessions, sitting in a lawn chair, keeping one eye on a book and another on Mike.

Diaz still marvels at her son's dedication to climbing. The first time she agreed to bring him to the gym, she says, she thought the one visit would be enough to satisfy his curiosity.

``But no,'' she says, watching her son scamper across the walls. ``I just added gasoline to his fire.''

By NANCI AVERETT

http://archive.columbiatribune.com/1994/apr/19940413spor05.htm 

 

The Sport of Climbing

Story ran on April 13, 1994

When Amy Duncan describes her first rock climbing experience, she could very easily be explaining her first high school track and field competition.

``It's terrifying when you first go out there,'' the Hickman senior said. ``You're trying to cling to the rocks because you're afraid you're going to fall away from them. You squeeze the rock so hard, it's like you're trying to squeeze water from it.

``But once you stop scrambling around and stop gluing yourself to the rock, once you get confident, you can practice moves and you see the whole rock face instead of just two feet in front of your face.''

Duncan thought about backing out of that first rock climbing expedition two years ago, just like she thought about backing out of the sectional track and field competition her freshman year.

``I was so scared,'' Duncan said of the track meet. ``I thought, `This is the big time, and all these other girls will see that I don't know what I'm doing.' Each time I went out there, for districts and sectionals, I wanted to do my best but every time I made it I thought, `Here we go again.' ''

Now Duncan is taking her jumping talent -- the high jump, triple jump and long jump -- to another level, and these same feelings occurred while she weighed attending a big school against a small school, where she could've played more than one sport.

This morning, with tears in her eyes, Duncan signed a letter of intent to compete for the University of Missouri, a school she never thought would want her.

``I didn't think I was Division I material,'' said Duncan, who also played softball and basketball but will stick with track at MU. ``I didn't think I could compete with the quality of athletes in the Big Eight.''

She has those same freshman fears that she'll look like she doesn't know what she's doing at the next level.

``I worry about being the little fish in the big sea, but then I could write a book about that: It doesn't bother me being the smallest fish, blah, blah, blah,'' Duncan said. ``But the coaches at MU convinced me that I could compete.''

Through three seasons of state qualifying performances, Duncan is confident. Of course, there's always the rush of nerves before every competition, but she knows how to handle it.

``I'm thankful that I went to state that first year,'' Duncan said. ``I'll always have a little case of nerves, but I wouldn't be coming in with the attitude I have now.''

Duncan's best performances came at last year's state meet. She placed eighth in the triple jump, and she finished second in the high jump with a school-record 5 feet, 7 inches.

The competition lasted an exhausting 21/2 hours. Duncan and Jefferson City senior Heather Fischer were the only competitors to clear 5-7. They both missed at 5-8, the state record, and because they had the same number of misses, in the same order, a jump-off ensued.

The girls were required to start at 5-8 and work their way down until one jumper cleared and one missed. Neither could clear the same jumps they had easily made earlier in the competition.

``It was blazing hot, our muscles were tired,'' Duncan said. Finally, though, both cleared 5-3. So they went back up an inch, where Duncan failed to match Fisher's jump.

``I didn't mind losing that much,'' Duncan said. ``It gives me something to work for this year.''

Duncan also holds the school record in the triple jump, which she set with a 36-41/2 in sectionals last year. She competes in the long jump, but has never taken it past the regular season. Her longest jump is 16-7.

Hickman basketball coach Julie Sommer described Duncan as a perfectionist, but five years of jumping and two years of rock climbing have taught her that sometimes you stumble on the way to success.

``Once you're confident, you take more chances,'' Duncan said of rock climbing. ``It teaches you to have faith in your life, faith in the rock, faith in the rope, faith in yourself.

``After you've done it a little while, it's not a big deal if you fall. You're going to fall a few times while you're learning to do more complex things, but you feel so much better about yourself when you use a hard move successfully.''

By MELINDA VIA


The Climb Up
By Adam Wisneski

Source:  Missourian
Sunday,March 25, 2007
, Section: Sunday Missourian, Page 20A


Boulder buffs and beginners come together to climb rock

At 6 p.m., Marcus Floyd munches on a sub sandwich as he saunters out of his office inside Wood Link Fence Company to the place next door. Floyd sets the half-devoured sandwich on a table cluttered with ice axes, carabiners, cams and other climbing devices. He punches the chalk-covered buttons of a CD player and sits back to occupy his hands by doodling in the grooves in the blades of his ice axes with a Sharpie.

He builds fences for work.

He built a climbing gym for play.

Since 1992, The Bouldering Garden has given climbing experts and novices a place to boulder.

" (I built it ) just to provide myself with a place to do what I love to do," he says.

Nelson Muller jams his feet into a pair of climbing shoes. At size 10.5, they are two sizes too small. But that's the way they are supposed to fit, Floyd says , as a tight fit leaves less room for slipping off small footholds. For longer climbs, more comfortable shoes would work. But this is bouldering, the dead sprint of rock climbing. Most of the routes on the 10-foot- high wall require more bursts of short-term strength than long-term stamina.

Seventeen -year-old Rebecca O'Brien's light frame glides seamlessly, like an insect, along the makeshift holds of the rock wall. Her hands clamp onto slivers of fake rock as the weight of her body shifts from leg to leg.

"I really like everything (about rock climbing) ," O'Brien says . "Moving on the rock ; the people that are attracted to it."

Her small voice and cheery smile don't give away the fact that she can do numerous pull-ups, gripping only with her fingertips. O'Brien climbs twice a week and competes occasionally. Floyd, who has traveled to climbing competitions with O'Brien, says she takes first almost every time. He says she's one of the best climbers in the country for her age group.

"It's not about the competition so much," she says. "It's about having fun with people who love to climb."

Tucked along a wall of the gym is "The Hut," Floyd's name for a small storage room inside the gym. Floyd's topographical map collection doubles as wallpaper. Climbing posters feature bodies twisted along granite rock faces and iced over waterfalls. A dusty archive of years of climbing magazines hides behind Floyd's parachute and skydiving helmet, and a U.S. map hangs, peppered with scores of thumbtacks and push pins marking only a small portion of the many places he's climbed.

Floyd says you don't have to train for hours or be in top physical condition to start climbing.

"It's a mindset. If you want to start climbing, the best way to prepare for climbing is just to do it," he said. "It's one step at a time, it's one hold at a time."

Photo Caption: Boulder buffs and beginners come together to climb rock
At 6 p.m., Marcus Floyd munches on a sub sandwich as he saunters out of his office inside Wood Link Fence Company to the place next door. Floyd sets the half-devoured sandwich on a table cluttered with ice axes, carabiners, cams and other climbing devices. He punches the chalk-covered buttons of a CD player and sits back to occupy his hands by doodling in the grooves in the blades of his ice axes with a Sharpie.
He builds fences for work.

Triumph over fear
By Tam Jones News@columbiamissourian.com

Source:  Columbia Missourian
Sunday,May 2, 2004
, Section: Sports



    For Sean Richmond, rock climbing isn't just another hobby: It’s a way of life. When life is good, this means another chance to match wits with a vertical rock face. Since growing up in a most befitting place, the mountainous north-central town of Mountain Home, Ark., Richmond has had a passion for the sport. “I absolutely love climbing. … I can’t really explain it,” he says. “There’s no reason really to climb. It’s the fact that you’re surrounded by the outdoors, the fact that you’re on a wall, scaling this vertical wall. You start at the bottom and work your way up to the top. It’s a different sort of challenge, and every climb poses a different challenge.”
 
    Nestled in the Arkansas Ozarks, Richmond, who graduated in December with a double major in meteorology and mathematics from MU, grew up near a lake surrounded by bluffs. From the time he was 12 or 13, he says he would climb the bluffs to jump into the lake. While he can’t pinpoint an exact time when he can remember falling in love with the sport, he says these experiences are probably the root of his interest and acquired skill. “Most people who climb once or twice get the bug,” he says. “When they go back a third time, they will get hooked. It kind of gets in your blood.” Now, Richmond, 23, tries to climb every chance he gets. It’s not just the sense of challenge that exhilarates him, but also the sense of liberation and the inner reckoning with instinct and fear. “I feel like it sets me free,” he says. “All the fear you have about falling, the illusion of fear, it has to be left on the ground. If it’s not, it builds up and builds up and that’s all you can think about.” Once that fear is mastered, the reward is not only personal triumph over challenge and physical toil, but also the experience of some uniquely spectacular moments.
 
    Richmond remembers a particular climb in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Westcliffe, Colo., in 1997 when, after an arduous seven-hour climb, he and the other climbers were privy to one of nature’s supreme visual spectacles, a beautiful setting sun. “This was a route, a traditional route, around 350 feet,” Richmond said. “... It took us about six or seven hours to do, and it was like, we’re out here in this mountain range extending all the way to the plains. Where we were climbing was actually really close to the plains. ... We were like 20 miles from the nearest road, and we could see the sun setting over the plains. It’s kind of hard to put the experience in words, because we’d been climbing for six hours.” The gear you need For all types of climbs, safety is key. For anyone looking to get into climbing, Richmond says some essential gear is needed before any climb can be undertaken, though each category of climbing has specific gear variations. Here is a primer of gear you need for this sport.
 
    For more equipment, visit the following Web sites: www.goboulgering.com
 Harness: Essential safety equipment that supports the climber and provides a safety link to belayer and belay devices. Price: $30 to $100. Chalk/chalkbag: Sweating hands are common for climbers. This can be a problem when trying to grip rock surfaces; stick hands into cracks or get a firm grasp on sometimes-negligible rock features. Chalk helps keep hands dry and improves grip. Price: $15 to $25. ATCs: These are belay devices that are essential for safety, and connect climber to belayer. They function as braking devices that create friction and help to slow a fall. Rope is fed through the ATC and clipped to the belayer's harness using a locking carabiner. The belayer then feeds the rope through his or her hands while the climber ascends the rock. Price: $10 to $22.

 
Built to scale
By Drew Avery

Source:  Columbia Missourian
Thursday,June 12, 2003
, Section: Vox Magazine



    Mike Denehey spent one afternoon of work and less than $200 in supplies to build a boulder in his garage. It wasn’t a chunk of rock, exactly. Mike, along with a friend, constructed a 9-foot-high, 10-foot-wide rock-like monstrosity, which he calls a bouldering wall. Pock-marked with a dozen handholds, or grips, the wall was meant to keep Mike’s body in shape for outdoor rock climbs. But it wasn’t long before neighborhood kids began stopping by to use the wall for fun. Having a climbing wall in the house might sound extreme, but it might sound less extreme when you consider the amount of money spent on treadmills and weight benches that devolve from fat burners into glorified coat racks. Running and weight lifting are great home workouts and are feasible in small rooms with stationary equipment. But if you’re a fan of extreme sports, you have a harder time shrinking the scope of your sport into the living room. Hang gliding? Nah. Skiing? No way. Sky diving? You get the point. Of all the extreme-sport athletes, a climber is one of the few who is able to simulate the activity at home. An entire wall of your house covered in handholds is much harder to ignore than the standard piece of exercise equipment. A climbing wall is also a much better conversation starter. ...
 
    At-home rock climbing is mainly a hobby for the devoted — and somewhat crazy — climber. “I had a friend in college who could go from his hall to the fridge for a beer without putting a foot on the floor,” Paul says. “He had handholds everywhere.” Base camp There are as many types of climbing walls as ways to scale a real mountain. The basic materials include plywood, wood studs for support, T-bolts and handholds. But before you buy the parts, you’d better have a site on which to build the wall. The tricky part is finding a large room to sacrifice, though basements, attics and garages are usually best. Renters: Contact your landlord before you begin construction. Once you have the location, a frame should be built that will secure the plywood permanently. Because a climbing wall is used to increase strength and endurance, the wall should be built at an angle. The challenge isn’t as great when you’re moving on a vertical plane, and a flat climbing wall just gets boring after a while. The next step is to put the T-bolts and backing plates onto the back of the plywood. T-bolts grip the wood and secure the handholds later. Not all of the T-bolts will have a handhold, but you can drill extra holes to allow the moving of holds when you want to try new routes. Next, the plywood can be screwed onto the frame. And unless you’re Spider-man, you’ll need some handholds to climb your newly installed wall. Holds come in all different shapes and sizes. Most are made of resin, which has a sandy texture that makes gripping much easier. Microholds, which are about the size of a half dollar, and large holds can cost more than $100, but more common holds are $20 to $50. If you really want a minimountain in your home but can’t give up the attic or garage, don’t fret. There are ways to overcome the space problem. If your house allows access to the underside of a staircase, you can screw handholds into the stairs and work on reaches. Even more practical is the fingerboard, a glorified chin-up bar that is usually the width of the average doorframe. Fingerboards can be placed over a door and are made of the same resin material as most handholds. A bonus point is that they have different grooves for a variety of holds.
 
    Upward bound Marcus Floyd built indoor climbing walls for Rock Bridge High School, the YMCAs in both Jefferson City and O’Fallon, and an outdoor wall in St. Louis. At 30 years old, Marcus has been climbing for most of his life and has been building walls for more than 12 years. Marcus runs the only privately owned, indoor climbing facility in the Columbia area. Located off Interstate 70 at the Lake of the Woods Road exit, the Columbia Climbing Gym is home to some of Marcus’ earliest experiments in climbing-wall construction since 1991, when the store opened. “You want to make it look and feel as real as possible,” Marcus says in a voice that could make ‘Hey, you’re about to plummet to your death’ sound soothing. Yet unlike the real thing, there is little risk of injury at the CCG. The floor is well-padded, and any fall would be less than 15 feet, so neither a rope nor a spotter is necessary. Marcus teaches beginning and intermediate climbing classes, so helpful advice is always available.
 
    As head of the School of Outdoor Learning, Marcus’ goal is to get people off the wall and onto the mountains of Missouri where they can experience the real thing. His bouldering wall is just a taste of what’s out there, but he has made it as realistic as possible. “Missouri has a wide diversity of rock,” Marcus says, “from granite to volcanic to limestone to red and white sandstone.” Some of that geological diversity can be found on the walls Marcus builds. He constructs his own holds by drilling into actual rock; half the walls at the CCG are made of rocks like the ones Marcus references: limestone and sandstone. “They feel cold and real,” Marcus says. “God made these holds.” The peak The goal of indoor climbing is to build and maintain strength and balance. Constructing a climbing wall might be intense for someone who has never hung above ground for longer than gravity will allow, but “the trick,” Marcus says, “is to make it convenient and routine.” How much use a wall gets will depend on the level of satisfaction it brings to the user. And what could be more satisfying than reaching the peak of a mountain, even if it is only 15 feet high?
 
    Essential climbing gear to get started: 1) harnesses. Not even the most skilled climbers will go without one of these lifesavers — unless they have a death wish. $40–140 2) climbing shoes. These climbing staples are flexible for stretching and reaching, and the sole traction makes them much safer than normal athletic shoes. $100–115 3) chalk and chalk bags. Even with a harness, there’s nothing scarier than slippery hands sliding off the rock to which you’re clinging. These bags carry chalk dust that will keep your hands dry enough to prevent sweat or other moisture from sending you tumbling. $16–30 4) carabiners. You might have one on your keychain, but are you aware of their true use? Carabiners are used to hook your safety line to your harness. $4.95–20 5) how-to books.
 

My Columbia

Source:  Columbia Missourian
Monday,March 11, 2002
, Section: Features


    Jordan Wright is 8 years old and a second-grader at Lee Elementary. She’s lived in Columbia all her life. She likes to go rock climbing at Columbia Rock Climbing Gym and biking on the MKT Trail. She loves Columbia’s trails. If Jordan could change anything about Columbia, she said, “I would change Lee’s playground. I want to get new equipment and more equipment.”
 
 
Got the fever?
Byline: Daniel Dalstra
April 15, 2002, Monday, Columbia Missourian, Features Section,
 
     KEEP ON CLIMBING Get into shape while exploring some of Columbia’s natural rock formations. Take a rock climbing class at Columbia Climbing Gym. The class starts with indoor climbing but takes various climbing excursions to local sites every other weekend. Classes start May 1; all equipment will be provided. For more information, call Marcus Floyd at 474-4997.
    The Pinnacles Natural Area is a 27-acre area about 11 miles north of Columbia off U.S. 63. These natural limestone formations were cut by the flows of the Silver Fork Creek and Kelley Branch. It provides opportunities for hiking, climbing and camping, with trails and picnic shelters. Tee for two Over spring and into summer, Parks and Recreations department offers you and your significant other the chance to participate in Couples Golf. Each outing will be in a scramble format and there will be prizes awarded. A shotgun beginning starts things off at 5:30 p.m. on May 17 at the L.A. Nickell Golf Course. The $30 per couple registration fee includes cart rental. For more information or to sign up, pick up a flier at the golf course or call 874-7460.
 
Summer fun
By Michael Mcnamara Reporter@digmo.com

Source:  Columbia Missourian
Monday,May 6, 2002
, Section: MiniMo


    Ever since 1983, May has been known as the National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. And with school getting out soon, it’s a good time to start finding summer activities. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, once headed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, has established the Presidential Sports Award, which you can earn by regularly participating in your favorite sport or physical activity. There are a lot of things you can do around Columbia to stay active. You can take a bike ride on the MKT Trail, go swimming or even walk your dog. Rock climbing has become more popular with kids lately, as well.
    Dereck Olson, manager at Columbia Climbing Gym said that birthday parties have been a way that kids have become interested in rock climbing, and that they usually host about five per Saturday, and that about 10 people attend each one. “In the past couple years, we’ve had a lot more birthday parties,” he said. “Saturdays are really busy.” Olson also said one of the gym’s best climbers is only 9 years old.
    Summer means sports camps, and MU offers camps in eleven sports for both boys and girls. You can get basketball lessons from MU coaches Quin Snyder or Cindy Stein, and you can meet MU players. Registration forms are available on the MU Athletic Department Web site, www.mutigers.com. The city of Columbia also offers sports lessons over the summer, in sports from golf to swimming to kayaking.
 
 

Boulder Undertaking
By Colin Webb
Sunday,June 18, 2006
, Section: Sports, Page 6B

Bouldering, a quirky variation of rock climbing, is gaining popularity in Columbia

Steve-O momentarily clings halfway up a 12-foot bouldering wall.

Six feet below him, Rubik’s Cubes and graduate school math books are heaped on the floor. A thin layer of chalk dust covers everything. This is Steve-O’s bedroom. He inhales, lunges his arms and legs to a new hold and clings, exhales. He immediately lifts his head toward a new position and lunges again.

    Every sport, like every family, has an extremist. Uncouth but earnest. Willing to bend the rules and himself. Bouldering is rock-climbing’s extremist nephew. The difficult sport is gaining popularity worldwide. But even in Columbia these climbers are pushing gravity aside for new challenges.

Unlike sport climbing (regular route climbing), extreme height is not the goal for boulderers, eliminating the need for ropes. Instead a boulderer’s mission is to ‘send a route,’ or to get from one point to another on a particular path.

Steven Senger, Steve-O to his friends, is an exemplary boulderer... The risk taker in him drove him up the wall without a rope, literally.

Then he gets to the roof where the plywood wall ends. He hangs effortlessly from his fingertips then drops and smiles.

Beginning at the base of the boulder or obstacle no more than 20 feet high and usually much lower, the climber mounts the wall, often in a hanging position. With only one route to follow, it is now a mental game of choice to get to the next hold or position that will help in advancement toward the ending place. The climber has a choice of which way to move his or her body, often one or two fingers supporting the climber, to the next hold before moving on. The end of the route is sometimes relatively close to the beginning, depending on the size of the obstacle.

The difficulty of the route ranges from V0, the easiest, to V16 at the hardest. The sport is so young that the difficulty is set by the one to solve a new route. Rumors of V20 routes roam the Internet.

The wall in Senger’s room is just for training because the majority of bouldering is done on actual rocks. Bouldering is relatively obsure in Missouri because there are few natural rocks and boulders. There are only a handful of spots in the Columbia area to climb, most of them private. Beginners can practice on a 10-foot bouldering wall in the basement of the MU rec center. For intermediate boulderers, there are rocks in Capen Park to train on. But the advanced climbers go to the extreme.

“We’ll put seven people in a car and drive all day just to climb a new rock,” said Senger.

Sport climbing has had an active club at MU since the 1970s, ....

Sometimes eating only granola and tuna out of a can on the road, the club members visit new climbing locations during most school breaks. For the past two years, serious MU boulderers have taken the long haul South during their winter vacation to Hueco Tanks, Tex., a climbing spot just outside of El Paso, Tex., where many consider as the best bouldering location in the world. The club members boulder new routes during the day and camp and relax at night. Preserving bouldering locations is a priority for most boulderers.

“We have a collective intuitiveness to keep climbing spots clean, not just because it’s right but so future climbers don’t have to deal with our trash,” Senger said....

 

Keeping Capen Park Available For Climbing 
ran on October 30, 1996

A city effort to ban rock climbing at Capen Park triggered an avalanche of
protest on Monday from local climbers, and a cliff popular for climbing was
reopened the next day.

Instead, the city plans to post a sign warning hikers, bikers and climbers
that the area is dangerous.

Climbers were irate when they discovered a no-climbing sign posted Monday at
the trail leading to the bluff. Word traveled fast, and climbers barraged
parks director Dick Green and city council members with phone calls.

Green said his department decided to close the area to climbing because of
several deaths in recent years. Most recently, a 24-year-old woman died after
falling from the cliff Sept. 10. She was alone at the time, and why she fell
was unclear.

``Over the past several years there have been probably 10 or a dozen people
who have died,'' falling from the cliff, Green said. ``I'm not as worried
about liability as people's lives.''

But climbers said they are taking the rap for careless individuals, most of
whom weren't climbers.

``It was this idea that Dick Green knew best, and he was going to punish
climbers in this knee-jerk reaction for something that didn't even involve
climbers,'' Barry Gilbert of Columbia, regional coordinator for The Access
Fund, a not-for-profit group that works to keep climbing areas open.

Since the state Department of Natural Resources closed bluffs along the
cross-state Katy trail to climbing, Capen Park is one of the last legal places
to climb in the area, Steve Sapanas, a manager at Missouri Wilderness Co.,
said. The city park is off Rock Quarry Road just south of Stadium Boulevard.

``If they are worried about liability, they should close the sledding hill in
the back of Cosmo'' park, Sapanas said.

The craggy limestone bluff overlooks Hinkson Creek. The area popular for
climbing is about 40 feet tall, Sapanas said.

Without Capen Park, the closest legal climbing is nearly three hours away, Tom
Koperski, student services coordinator for MU's Wilderness Adventures, said.
MU students use the bluff...
The city will replace the no-climbing sign with a warning, Green said. This
morning, only the sign posts were in place at the base of the trails leading
to the bluff.

Green said the sign will say ``Danger area: hike, climb or rapel at your own
risk.''

Gilbert said that although climbers won this skirmish, the incident was a
wake-up call: ``Climbers have learned a valuable lesson, and we intend to
remain very visible in our efforts to keep that place clean and safe.''
By LESLIE WRIGHT
 
 
 
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