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Claire Bell - UP Climbing Team

Claire Bell - UP Climbing Team
Claire Bell - UP Climbing Team
Claire Bell - UP Climbing Team
Claire Bell - UP Climbing Team
Claire Bell - UP Climbing Team
Claire Bell - UP Climbing Team
Claire Bell - UP Climbing Team
July 20, 2012 -  Claire Bell    

It is one year since the humble beginnings of our UP climbing team in Chattanooga TN. We started small, meaning small hands, small feet, small people, 15 kids ages 3 to 5 climbing on a cool kid size wall outside in the playground at the Northside learning center. The wall was rarely used because the holds were all quite small, so the manager of the center asked me if I could come up with a way to inspire the kids to use the wall more and integrate climbing into there daily playtime.

The first thing I did was scope around the community for some larger climbing holds. A friend had about 20 perfect metolius jugs in her goat barn on a wall her son had put up years ago which were doing nothing but housing cobwebs, and after some scrubbing and power hosing they looked as good as new. Another source for holds was the Baylor school, who's outdoor center was home to a huge stash of holds that were given to them years ago from a gym that was closing. Again, once cleaned these holds were like new. With the help of some of the older kids I added a bunch of holds to the wall, and bam, the wall was swarming with little climbers.

Crashpads were the next addition, in the form of three huge Black Diamond mondo crashpads.  What followed has been a fun year of honing the chaos of 15 very keen little climbers who all want to climb at the same time, in bare feet and on their own terms.  

Since those first few months the team has grown beyond the borders of the Northside learning center with the addition of a group of 7 to 10 year olds who I coach in pairs at the Baylor school and Urban Rocks gym.

What is to become of this team? Will I keep it small and keep some focus on my own climbing or will I take on more members and have little climbing time for myself, hmmmm we will see. I am quite content right now to be surrounded by little people and big people who just think climbing is

incredible, which it is!


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