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The Bridge School Climbing Week

June 22nd, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Erie, Colorado resident Joey Thompson. Besides being ski patrol at Boulder’s local hill Eldora and an AMGA Certified Rock Guide, Joe is teaming up this summer with local Boulder kids to introduce safe climbing and outdoor skills…

I had an intro to rock climbing comprehensive course for 4 days with the Bridge School of Boulder. We covered topics like knot craft, belaying/lowering, climbing movement and zip line traverses.

We started with movement right away to keep these “go getter”  kids engaged, with under clings and side pulls and crimps. Finally, we demoed high stepping and counter balance flagging.  They loved all of the crazy positions they would get themselves into.  As a group we had a discussion about the mechanics of top roped climbing and wow risk vs. reward fits in and the high level of seriousness required while climbing.  We then introduced belayed climbing with all of the participants taking a roll. There was a climber, belayer and a backup belayer.

The second day we had more time together and more ground to cover.  We decided to go to up to Boulder Canyon to escape the heat. We had climbs that were slab in nature with the main focus being our foot placement and technique “nose over toes”.  This area was a warm up session to get them all loosened up and relaxing and getting comfortable with our belaying/lowering techniques.  We then moved over to higher and more challenging climbs. 87 foot high climbs, climbs with overhanging roofs and finger crack at a stiff rating of 5.9 – no problem – they all wanted a piece of every rock climb that I set up. I really commend them on their motivation and drive.

On the third day the weather wasn’t cooperating with us, so we wanted a place where we would be able to make a mad dash to the van if we needed. We chose Flagstaff, an area with a huge history for the Boulder local climbing community. The kids started off with bouldering some warm up problems with their teacher. Meanwhile I scrambled up the back side of the Last Alamo.  I wanted to set up a climb with a mega swing if one were to pitch off during the crux (hard part) of the climb they would swing out about 25 feet into space about 55 feet off of the deck.  I think the common theme was “I need to try that again!”

The last day was spent on the Tyrolean traverse. I brought the kids over one at a time to me on the other side of the rushing spring melt.  We all then traveled to the base of the crag, I quickly set up a couple climbs so that they would be able to keep busy while I scrambled up and set up the Mega 184 foot Toped Rope climb. What an intimidating rock climb, we were barely able to see the top of the climb from the bottom so we needed a clear line of communication while lowering and passing the knot, which tied two ropes together, on the way down.   They all had an opportunity to try and many got to the top of the climb. We quickly reached our time plan for the day and had to pack up and move across the creek again to reach the van.  What an adventure for these guys and girls. Way to go Bridge School!

I packed the Osprey Variant 37 for all four of the rock days.  I was able to pack a 60m rope and a medium sized rack of gear up to 4 inch Cams, climbing chalk and shoes, harness, helmet, first aid kit, extra food and water and let’s not forget the 10 essentials.  There was still more room for other things, too.

My colleagues and clients made many comments on the pack, how they needed a bigger backpack for rock climbing they saw the benefits while working with me during these four fun filled days.

For more information please see Joey’s bio page here.

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