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Übergrippen: Thriving on “problems”

By Joe Gschwendtner

Photo of Übergrippen

The climbers, all staring up at the “problems” facing them. Routes are color-coded, assigned precise degrees of difficulty at the route’s start point.

Fresh on the scene from its October opening, Übergrippen’s 18,000-square-foot climbing center has brought indoor climbing to Castle Rock. Indoor sport climbing covers three disciplines – rope climbing, bouldering and speed climbing. The sport’s popularity is growing, and it debuted in this past summer Olympics.

Rope climbing is a two-person activity. A harnessed climber (the leader) stakes out the route. When leading a route, he/she will put in protection for falls at key points along the climb. Through belaying, (a safety rope) the non-climbing partner (the belayer) ensures any fall by the leader will almost always be non-injurious.

Bouldering, on the other hand, is a one-person affair. The boulderer makes a sequence of moves to summit the top of a formation – generally no higher than 20 feet. Safety lies in falling un-awkwardly in some form of “soft” landing. Outside, the climber uses a crash pad positioned below. In gyms the climber has a foot or so of floor foam beneath.

Speed climbing times the climber on a route using specific holds, uniform throughout the world.

Photo of Matt Leach

Matt Leach, entrepreneur. For him, Übergrippen is a dream come true, a far cry from being glued to a computer screen.

The “route” or “problem” is climber talk, referring to the best way to top out on the obstacle. Each feasible way up is quantified with degrees of difficulty and labeled accordingly – beginning with 5.5 all the way to 5.15. In many instances, climbers’ guidebooks diagram the route.

Failure comes for a variety of reasons – one’s wingspan, mental strength, flexibility, etc. Success comes with the right combination of physical and mental conditioning.

Douglas County families are learning that indoor climbing is not only enjoyable but makes for remarkable fitness opportunities. World-class climbers are generally strong, nimble, limber, deft and safe. Women also climb on par with men.

According to Matt Leach, Übergrippen’s managing owner, a broad market demographic, from children that can barely walk to seniors climbing in their 80s, enjoy the sport. People of all ages carve out their own niche. Quickly becoming a family endeavor, climbing can be enjoyed at any age and span a lifetime.



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