Climbing the Walls

"It's really been fun to watch them learn body use and coordination," he said.

Tyson, the oldest child, is the most competitive. He has taken to sport climbing voraciously and is winning competitions. He thrives in the rock gym environment. "But he's not particularly keen  on humping a pack and hiking up a mountain to do a crack climb," said his father.
Blair, 12, is more cerebral in his approach to climbing. "He likes the compulsion of it, the tenacity of the climb." The youngest son, Peter, is strong and athletic. He also shows promise as a sport climber.

Schoene praised  the rock gym as a safe environment for family climbs. The climbing wall rises up from a pit of soft gravel and sand. Some climbers use the safety ropes that are available, but most climb without them.
"If you fall, it's onto a surface that's atraumatic, even from 15 feet," Schoene said.
Not all rock gyms are the same, however. In Chicago, a gym called The Sporting Club has a 100-foot-high climbing surface known as "The Wall." Climbing ropes and harnesses are required.
"Right now, there are about 40 rock gyms in this country specifically designed to cater to indoor rock climbing. That doesn't include climbing walls that are being built in
universities, high schools and grade schools," said Elaine Chandler, editor and publisher of The Sportclimbing Connection.

Just three issues old, the quarterly magazine already has a circulation of  10,000 copies. "We're looking for sport climbing to be one of the big sports for the 90s," Chandler said.

The popularity of rock climbing in America has been growing steadily, gaining on skiing and bicycling as a favorite participation sport. In 1988, CBS Sports televised an international World Cup sport climbing competition at Snowbird Resort in Utah, giving many Americans their first introduction to the sport's new look.
No longer is rock climbing simply a slow, mechanical athletic feat in which climbers seek to get from the bottom to the top of a rock formation. Instead, a new gymnastic style of climbing has taken over. Now the goal for most climbers is to climb short but treacherous rock walls -- either natural or man-made -- with the greatest possible grace, speed and skill.
Lynn Hill, a 31-year-old New Yorker, has arisen as one of the first American stars of the sport. She has consistently ranked among the top female climbers in the world. Standing just 5-foot-2, she is shorter than much of her competition, but is extremely strong and flexible; and she makes smart moves. Sport climbing rewards athletes who can keep a clear mind while clinging to a narrow outcropping over a 300-foot drop.

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by MichaelHofferber@outriderbooks.com
Copyright © 1993. All rights reserved.
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