Hanging by the tips of your fingers, nearly inverted with the prospect of a back flop a near certainty, is just the kind of situation the crew at Boise's newest climbing gym hopes more people will find themselves in.
There aren't many ropes or harnesses at The Front Climbing Club. Instead, climbers face a massive wall running nearly the length of the building, where rock jocks can practice the fine art of bouldering. It's the first bouldering-specific wall in the area, and general manager Sus Edmundson said its creation is in response to the incredible growth the sport has seen in recent years. Unlike technical climbing, bouldering requires little more than a pair of climbing shoes. Ascent lines are shorter, depending more on strength than endurance.
Edmundson teamed with The Front climbing gym in Salt Lake City to bring the club to Boise, or more specifically, Garden City. Employees spent a long, hot summer gutting the former location of Boise Rigging. The main wall is the result of quality time spent with layers of massive steel rails, laminates and texture. New routes are set every month, promising continuing challenges for regular climbers.
Edmundson, who helped develop the climbing program at the Boise YMCA, is working closely with schools and youth groups to create the next generation of climbers.
On a recent afternoon, teens filed in and began clambering up the wall with deceptive ease. Still wearing their jeans and T-shirts, they lined the massive, multi-layer fall mat under the climbing wall as one climber managed to hang parallel to the ground on a giant curve in the wall before dropping to the mat.
The club is membership based, and a separate area of the gym is available for private parties.
Edmundson, who still climbs five times a week, is philosophical about the sport. "Climbing is a big physical puzzle," Edmundson said. "It's getting your body through the puzzle."