TraditionalMountaineering Logo (TM) representing the shared companionship of the Climb

Home | Information | Photos | Calendar | News | Seminars | Experiences | Questions | Updates | Books | Conditions | Links


Ethan Caudle, 11, concentrates as he tries to get a start after a slip-up while climbing at Smith Rock State Park on Friday during the "Arbor Week Rock Climb."
Photo by Rob Kerr/Copyright 2002, The Bulletin.

Kids mix good deeds, adventure
By Mark Morical
The Bulletin Published: April 16, 2002

"I'm trusting you because the only thing in the world I'm afraid of is heights," said Emily Haney, 12, to her climbing instructor, Eric Denzler, as she hung in her harness while he supported her from below by controlling the rope.

"This is how Spiderman started, you realize," Denzler answered.

Without the benefit of web-producing power, Haney and five other middle school-aged kids challenged themselves and faced their fears while learning the basics of rock climbing Friday at Smith Rock State Park.

The program, called the "Arbor Week Rock Climb," is part of Bend Metro Park and Recreation District's service adventure programs, where a community service component is incorporated into an outdoor adventure program.

On Thursday, most of the kids who participated in the rock climbing helped to prepare a tree-planting site in Shevlin Park. Arbor Week is the first full week in the month of April, and is celebrated in Oregon as a time to plant trees and recognize their importance.

After helping to improve the community, the next day the kids were ready to dabble in adventure. Some had limited climbing experience, while for others it was their first time.

"I've done indoor climbing, but this is my first time (climbing) outside," Haney said.

"It's hard getting off the ground sometimes, and finding places for your hands and feet. I look for places with white marks, where people have climbed with chalk."

Denzler said that while some kids have had climbing experience in the gym, once they get outside, everything changes. The outdoor variables create a vastly different, more challenging experience.

"You don't have this sense of height in the gym that's part of the outdoor experience," Denzler said. "When you look down to see where your feet go, you're looking all the way down to the river."

Denzler pointed to the Crooked River, which meanders calmly, hundreds of feet below the "Cinnamon Slab" and "Easy Reader" climbing routes the participants were scaling.

"Out here on the rock, everything is a potential place to grab," Denzler said. "Good climbers can put their hand in something the size of a marble and use it for a hand-hold. There's a lot for these kids to learn. It's just pushing themselves with a personal challenge, and having fun."

Josh Caudle, 14, was another young climber participating in the program. He said the rock climbing was difficult, but still fun.

"It's harder than it looks," Caudle said. "You have to know where to put your hands and use different techniques, but you get to hang out and have fun."

The next service adventure program is the "River Clean Up Canoe," scheduled for May 24. Kids in grades six through nine can spend a day of easy canoeing along the upper Deschutes River while making stops to pick up litter along the riverbanks as part of the annual Deschutes River cleanup effort.

For more information about the program, contact the Park District at 389-7275.