Going up? Celebrating climbing @ new Camp Long Mountain Fest

(Schurman Rock photo courtesy Seattle Parks)

Long before climbing walls and other ways of heading up without going to the mountains, there was Schurman Rock. It’s just one big reason Camp Long is hosting the new Mountain Fest on September 13th. Here’s how Seattle Parks is announcing the event:

Rock climbing is fast becoming the sport of choice for many in search of an athletic activity with both grit and Zen. Climbing, it seems, is scaling into the mainstream. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, over 10 million people in the United States participate in rock climbing on some level, and Seattleites in particular have embraced this sport with a passion, with rock climbing gyms and venues, both indoor and outdoor­, growing exponentially all the time. To celebrate both this coming-of-age time for the sport of climbing and Seattle’s long-standing mountain and climbing history/community, Seattle Parks and Recreation will open up its historic Camp Long for a Mountain Festival on September 13th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — where anyone, from novices to hard-core enthusiasts, can get their hands on the rocks and feet off the ground.

Visitors to the Camp Long Mountain Fest will find an exhilarating mix of climbing, conviviality, and challenge.

They can test themselves on the high ropes course*, and swap stories afterwards, or simply enjoy some downtime and spirited conversation with kindred climbers. Vertical World, a local climbing gym, will run a climbing wall where individuals can scale the same rock that Clark Schurman and Fred Beckey, living legends among Northwest mountaineers, used to practice on*. Mountain Madness, a west-Seattle climbing guide and mountaineering company, will run a rappel station down the camp’s “Glacier Wall.” Visitors will also find numerous vendor booths, mountain games and interactive workshops for people of all ages and abilities—prizes to be awarded.

With a nod to the past, Camp Long and the Seattle Bouldering Project will also conduct a special outdoor bouldering clinic on Schurman Rock (space is limited so early arrival to the festival and sign-up is encouraged.)*

Schurman Rock was constructed between 1938 and 1939 by the Work Progress Administration, and is believed to be the first man-made climbing structure in America. It was originally named Monitor Rock because climbing instructors could monitor their students from all sides of the structure. In 1957, it was renamed to honor its designer, Clark Schurman, who saw the need for novice climbers to have a practice rock and thus created it. Schurman, known as “The Chief,” was the chief climbing guide on Mount Rainier from 1938 to 1941. He loved mountaineering for all that it has to offer, and his Rock stands to this day as a legacy to his vision.

Last but not least, Erden Eruc, a Turkish adventurer and the first person in history to complete an entirely solo and human-powered circumnavigation of Earth, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the event. Eruc’s list of accolades and awards include the Men’s Journal 2015 list of 50 most adventurous men; the Outside Magazine 2013 Adventurer of the year list; and the Explorers Club 2013 Citation of Merit. Now a West Seattleite, Eruc focuses full-time on his non-profit foundation, Around-n-Over, with its goals of inspiring and informing young people. Festival participants will delight in hearing Eruc share insights and experiences from his life of purpose and adventure.

All events are free and take place at Camp Long (5200 35th. Ave SW). This 68-acre park offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy nature, hike in the forest, camp overnight in rustic cabins, rock climb, and learn about natural history. A talented staff of naturalists and ropes course staff lead ongoing group environmental education and rock climbing classes. Programs at Camp Long are designed to be fun, educational, and interactive experiences for all ages.

3 Replies to "Going up? Celebrating climbing @ new Camp Long Mountain Fest"

  • dsa August 27, 2015 (11:25 pm)

    As one of the workers, my dad was very proud of the craftsmanship of the original construction of Schurman Rock. Growing up I heard many stories from him how people thought it was rock, but actually it was constructed from concrete. By the time I was old enough to see I was disappointed as weather had deteriorated it quite a bit.

  • Rock Climber August 28, 2015 (9:30 am)

    This looks really cool. That lady is even climbing in a skirt! Too bad we won’t be able to make the event.

  • Craig August 28, 2015 (9:49 am)

    This is great the Parks is celebrating Sherman Rock and the climbing history at Camp Long. I love that the City has three climbing structures from different eras- Sherman Rock from the 1930s, UW Rock from the 1970’s and the Marymoor Park climbing structure from the 1990s.

    Bouldering- climbing more challenging smaller structures/rocks without ropes is more current and is less dangerous because of the lower heights. Maybe a cool addition to camp long and way to build on the parks history would be to expand Camp Sherman and add some small structures that are more relevant to climbers?

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