Rock climbing reaches peak operation amid pandemic

By Jackson Pham; May 11, 2021

With outdoor activities scaling up as Los Angeles County slowly ascends into the yellow tier, local residents are increasingly able to explore activities, such as rock climbing, where residents can explore new heights despite COVID-19 restrictions.

With the temporary closure of the BRIC last March, the CPP community has still been able to-partake in the rock climbing through local indoor gyms and outdoor climbing parks.

Ian Navarro, ASI’s adventure education coordinator, believes that rock climbing promotes social distancing protocols, but it is still important to consider the indoor versus outdoor climate of the activity, and which could contribute to more virus transmission than the other.

“Masks can be uncomfortable for some during physical activities, but I do not think it will diminish the experience to the point where the activity is no longer enjoyable,” Navarro said. “Touching objects that others have touched does hold a higher risk but, in general, participants are spaced out regularly, so it promotes general social distancing.”

(Courtesy of Marshall Fielding)

Before the pandemic, many students utilized the Bronco Peak, CPP’s rock climbing wall located in the BRIC. According to ASI, the Bronco Peak is the tallest indoor rock climbing wall in the California State University system, at 51-feet tall, and includes 12-foot bouldering sections.

However, with the Bronco Peak unavailable, ASI’s Bronco Get Outdoors initiative featured two local, indoor climbing gyms close to the CPP campus for students.

The Hangar 18 is located in Upland, California, about 11 miles from the CPP campus. According to its website, The Hangar 18 was one of the first rock climbing gyms in Southern California, providing over 12,000 square feet of climbing spaces and many climbing routes throughout its climbing wall. The Hangar has a total of 11 different indoor climbing gyms all across Southern California.

Marshall Fielding, co-president of the Bronco Ascenders club, explained that The Hangar 18 could be a cheaper alternative for students who are looking into indoor climbing.

(Courtesy of Marshall Fielding)

“They don’t have the saunas and other fanciness other gyms do so they really do accommodate student budgets which is a great thing for Cal Poly students specifically,” Fielding said. “It is a pretty laidback atmosphere of people all wanting to climb and enjoy it.”

Another option for indoor climbing is the Stronghold Climbing Gym, located in the heart of Los Angeles. Stronghold Climbing Gym provides an occupancy counter on its website to indicate how many guests are currently utilizing their facility. With the yellow tier approaching, the gym

is allowing day passes and walk-ins, since indoor recreational gyms will be able to operate at 50% capacity. Stronghold is approximately 30 miles out from CPP and boasts various routes for climbers to enjoy.

Furthermore, those interested in outdoor climbing could visit Joshua Tree National Park and Sawtooth Canyon, both locations providing the brimming experience for the outdoors.

Joshua Tree National Park provides unique scenery and spots for rock climbers to explore. It is approximately a two-hour drive from the campus and requires an entrance fee of $30 for each car. According to the National Park Services, it is described to be a “world-class” climbing area with over 8,000 climbing routes and 2,000 bouldering problems.

Joshua Tree National Park provides a variety of climbing routes on the desert rocks for climbers to experience. (Courtesy of Poly Lens)

Sawtooth Canyon, also known as New Jack City, is located in San Bernardino County with an approximate drive of two to three hours from campus. The area provides free campgrounds but also has many climbing spaces around the sites for climbers to utilize. According to the Bureau of Land Management, there are a total of 13 campsites, while four of them being close proximity to the Boy Scout Wall.  

For Joseph Irwin, an adventure supervisor at ASI campus recreation, rock climbing provided him with a sense of community.

“It’s a really inclusive sport for new people,” Irwin said. “It’s really easy to get into, especially in a gym environment…There’s tons of ways to climb for new people, a lot of easier climbs to start off.”

Similarly, for Fielding, rock climbing is an eye-opening experience because he is able to learn more about himself through facing obstacles while climbing.

“I love who I am when I am climbing,” Fielding said. “There are so many amazing qualities both physical and mental that I get to practice when I am climbing because that is what it takes to climb.”

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