Participation in sports like baseball and football is on the decline, but when it comes to bouldering and rock climbing, they’re on the rise.
“It’s just kind of exploded exponentially in the last ten years it seems like,” said avid Terrebonne rock climber Kyle Stevens.
Stevens scales up Smith Rock twice a week.
“It takes you places that you probably wouldn’t go normally if you weren’t super into rock climbing and seeing amazing sights,” Stevens said. “That is what I love about it.”
Stevens says his journey started 12 years ago, climbing indoors with his friends at Oregon State. Now, a new generation is riding the wave of the popular sport and doing it very well.
“Over time, learning technique, learning to climb in different ways, and my coaches have helped me progress from getting pretty close to last on competitions to getting first and second,” said top rope competitor with the Bend Endurance Academy, Coby Smith.
Bend Endurance Academy is sending six athletes from its climbing program to the USA Climbing Youth National Championships.
“They are going to Salt Lake for almost nine days,” said Climbing Program Director at the Bend Endurance Academy Cate Beebe. “So, a good chunk of time competing, and they will be competing against the top 50 kids in their category, in the entire country.”
Some climbers are competing on the big stage for the first time, while others like Nathaniel Perullo are competing in nationals for the 6th time.
“It was really unique,” said Perullo, a lead and bouldering competitor at the Bend Endurance Academy. “I loved it when I first got into it when I was seven or eight years old. I have been doing it for about seven years now, and I don’t know, I just loved it.”
A sport that has captured the attention of indoor competitors and outdoor climbing explorers alike.
“It’s one of the sports where it’s challenging,” Stevens said. “It is not just going to the gym and lifting heavy things and putting them back down. You are actually physically and mentally pushing yourself, kind of to the limit.”
The popularity is evident when you look at the numbers. Here in the U.S., there are nearly 500 rock climbing facilities.
As far as outdoor climbing is concerned more than ten million people participate in that sport every year.