Idaho State University’s Pocatello Pump rock-climbing competition is celebrating its 25th year on Sept. 16 and 17 on the basalt cliffs of Pocatello’s Ross Park.
“Pocatello Pump, in its 25th year, is the longest-running climbing competition in America,” said Peter Joyce, Pump director and ISU outdoor recreation coordinator. “I attribute its success to the fun the staff has putting it on, as well as the fun the climbers have participating in it.”
The Pump will run from 8 a.m. to early afternoon Saturday, Sept. 16. The Pump takes most of the afternoon off so participants can take advantage of the CW HOG Pig Out Dutch oven dinner adjacent to the climbing area.
Climbing resumes Sunday, Sept. 17, at 7 a.m. The awards ceremony is at 6 p.m.
In conjunction with the Pump, the ISU Outdoor Adventure Center is also bringing in Hans Florine, “the world’s fastest climber,” who will use a multimedia presentation to share his speed-climbing tips at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, in the ISU Pond Student Union Building Ballroom. That presentation is free.
Although organizers of the Pocatello Pump stress friendly rock climbing for people of all ages, the element of competition is still there.
“The Pump is an opportunity to have a good time and enjoy the camaraderie of rock climbing,” said Peter Joyce, Pump director and ISU outdoor recreation coordinator. “But still, people climb like there’s no tomorrow.”
The cost for preregistrants for the Pump is $30. Those registering on-site pay $35. All participants receive a custom Pocatello Pump T-shirt. To preregister, contact the ISU Outdoor Adventure Center, 282-3912, ISU Stop 8128, drop by the office in the Pond Student Union Building, or register online at www.isu.edu/outdoor/pump.html.
While it has outgrown rather humble beginnings, the Pump has kept the family-type atmosphere for which it is noted.
“When the Pump started, the goal was to get climbers in the community together,” Joyce said. “The first Pump had 13 climbers, and it grew from there. It is a gathering, a picnic emphasizing the spirit of climbing. Climbers come here to have a good time, and unlike other competitions, they see each other climb and exchange information. At other competitions it’s cutthroat.”
The Pump has a variety of categories for both men and women, but it doesn’t group climbers in the typical elite, expert, advanced, and recreational rankings. The Pump’s categories are mostly named after climbing areas.
The leading categories are Yosemite (California), City of Rocks (Idaho), and Shawangunks (New York). In leading categories, bolts are already embedded in the rock and the climber takes a rope and attaches it to the bolts during the climb.
The nonleading categories are Smith Rocks (Oregon), Seneca Rocks (West Virginia), Everest for climbers with physical disabilities, Big Cottonwood Canyon for boys and girls ages 11-15, Little Cottonwood Canyon for boys and girls age 10 and under and men’s and women’s local divisions.
In nonleading categories, the climber is attached to a rope that has been already secured at the top of the rock before the climb.
On both days more than 60 climbs will be set up. Points will be awarded on the basis of each climb’s difficulty. Competitors in leading categories climb for 90 minutes, nonleading for 60 minutes, and each participant must attempt as many climbs as possible in the time allotted.
There will be sponsors’ booths on-site.
The Pump is a fund-raiser for the climbing community. Proceeds support the Access Fund, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to educating climbers on environmental and climbing issues, and the ISU Climber’s Scholarship, which awards $1,000 each semester. Money left over is used to purchase belay and rappel anchors at the City of Rocks.
For more information on the Pocatello Pump, call the Outdoor Adventure Center at (208) 282-3912, or visit the Internet site http://www.isu.edu/outdoor/pump.html.