Spring Bouldering and Other Climbing Stuff

I climb a thing while my spotters laugh at me, and Cat takes a picture

Last weekend, I enjoyed some quality time climbing and bouldering with friends at Tr’at’egheth No’ (Lower Tanana for ‘From Cottonwood Creek,’ commonly known as the Savage River) in Denali National Park and the Tatlanika Boulders near Healy. While I’ve hiked extensively in this part of Denali, this was my first time bouldering there. The schist quality is surprisingly good for the Alaska Interior, though it doesn’t quite compare to the rock at Rumney.

The weather was absolutely phenomenal, although it was a tad (very) windy in Denali, and the mosquitoes were starting to emerge at the Tatlanika Boulders.

I really have no idea what we climbed, and I don’t care. It was just fun to pull on rock again, especially in good company. I have barely climbed outdoors since moving to Alaska. Probably because I was so spoiled, growing up climbing at Red River Gorge and New River Gorge and living for about eight years in New Hampshire, climbing almost every weekend at Pawtuckaway or Rumney (or sometimes daily). I just have trouble getting excited about our ultra-sharp, crumbly rock quality.

Cat has only climbed outside a handful of times, but she was crushing it and absolutely fearless.

Cat on one of her three high-ball sends of the day
Just keeps going
Matt pulling on pebbles
Cassidy on another thing (Mt. Margaret in the Background)
Matt on a very thin line at the Tatlanika Boulders

I haven’t spent much time taking photos or writing this spring. I’ve often been at the climbing gym (Ascension Rock Club)—like, a lot. If you don’t know, I’ve been coaching there for about six years and route-setting since the gym opened in 2015. I’ve been pretty focused on developing training programs for my competitive youth team (Team Ascension Climbing—Definitely go check them out!).

I can’t say enough how proud I am of the kids on Team Ascension. They absolutely crush it at competitions and are incredibly hard workers at practice.

Alex at the Grizzly Grapple Climbing Competition in Fairbanks
Dylan at the Grizzly Grapple Climbing Competition in Fairbanks

Here’s a short clip of two of the kids training coordination and speed on Ascension’s Wave Wall:



Pretty impressive to have June and Dylan climb the 14-foot overhanging wall back to back in less than 20 seconds (actually only about 6 seconds each on the wall).

Of course, speed isn’t the goal in bouldering, but learning how to move with momentum in a coordinated way is an incredibly valuable skill to hone (and probably one of the kids’ favorite practices).

I digress. Anyway, I’ve been really busy at the gym. Aside from team stuff, we recently replaced the mats. It was the most time I’ve spent at the gym in a week. I was there from about 8 or 9 a.m. until 8 or 9 p.m. almost every day for seven days straight.


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The gym with a bare floor after ripping out all the padding
Laying down the new covers – all one piece for each wall section. It makes for great continuous flooring but is incredibly difficult to pin down!

I joked that the job was essentially “extreme upholstery.” We’d frequently have to hang from the wall while pulling the cover into the corners to roll and screw down to the framing. I wish I had gotten some photos of that.

Our first set with the beautiful new covers!

I’ve also been working really hard on rolling out a social media presence for the team and programs in general. If you are interested in that sort of thing, we’ll be posting a lot of climbing content on there in the coming months!

Follow Team Ascension Climbing!

We’re getting ready for summer programs and some schedule changes. I’m excited for teams’ 8-hour practices because I like to (try to) do the workouts and climbing with the kids. If you’re ever in the Fairbanks area and want to try bouldering, you should definitely check out the gym. I also frequently teach a beginner’s class and do a regular Tuesday night training class with adults that’s free for members and only $5 for non-members (not including a day pass).

I’m there most afternoons and early evenings Monday-Wednesday, and I’m always happy to say hi and meet new faces.

Cat on the start of her last high-ball of the day
The aftermath of Cat’s hands

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