TMHS Climbing Club

TMHS+Climbing++Club+members+relax+after+a+competition+in+Grand+Junction.

Courtesy of TMHS Climbing Club

TMHS Climbing Club members relax after a competition in Grand Junction.

Johnny Wilcox, Staff Writer

TELLURIDE — The Telluride climbing club has been going on for over 11 years, and allows for both high school and middle school students to get involved in climbing.

During this past year, the club has attended five different competitions.

It was founded by Fisher Hazen and Dave Chew is the starting coach.  Enrollment in the club has increased to 15 members.  The group gets together three times per week to improve their wall bouldering and competition climbing skills. 

Telluride has played a large part in the growth and showcasing of outdoor climbing with the world-renowned Telluride Mountain Film Festival, which happens once a year. This not only gives broad exposure to the local community, but also those attending the festival from around the globe. 

During the most recent renovation and expansion of the Telluride High School, one of the paramount additions to the new wing was an indoor climbing gym.

The gym includes a 35 ft. climbing wall, as well as much improved safety and climbing equipment for both middle and high school students so that they may push themselves. This new and improved climbing space has allowed for the climbing club to gain new followers and train more.

THS Senior Wiley Holbrooke has been a member of the club for five years and was very excited about the new climbing gym after its completion.

“Yeah, the old one was a little small and somewhat bad quality, the new one has features like the tension board, which has really helped give us a steep wall to train on,” Holbrooke said.

Beyond Telluride, the sport of climbing has been growing and gathering global traction.

2018 marked a big year for blockbuster climbing films including: ‘The Dawn Wall,’ directed and produced by Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer, as well as the documentary ‘Free Solo’ directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. Both films did incredibly well compared to previous attempts to showcase the sport, showing a newfound interest in the once niche community of climbing. 

According to an estimate by the IBISWorld, from 2012-2017 the average annual growth for the indoor climbing wall industry was 3.9% in the U.S.  The Association of British Climbing Walls (ABC) claims there were over 1,000,000 visits to indoor climbing walls in 2017. They also report that those same numbers are growing by around 15-20% per year.

This overwhelming growth in the indoor climbing wall industry is also correlated with a large increase in outdoor climbing. Those who are visiting their local indoor gym are now learning how to safely and effectively climb on their local outdoor pitches. Overall, it seems as though this sport has a very bright future in the United States as well as around the globe. 

Telluride has always been a place that embraces the outdoors, and with the increase in popularity of the sport as a whole, there may be a lot in store for the future of climbing in Telluride.