Malia Fraioli reaches for a hold while making her way up the new climbing wall at Steamboat Springs Middle School. The wall was built through a fundraising effort of more than $30,000 led by Everything Outdoor Steamboat and teacher Matt Tredway. Malia is in Tredway's sixth-grade fitness class.

Photo by John F. Russell

Malia Fraioli reaches for a hold while making her way up the new climbing wall at Steamboat Springs Middle School. The wall was built through a fundraising effort of more than $30,000 led by Everything Outdoor Steamboat and teacher Matt Tredway. Malia is in Tredway's sixth-grade fitness class.

Climbing wall up at middle school

Concrete and steel structure challenging students

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Climbing wall

A new climbing wall was recently completed at the Steamboat Springs Middle School.

A new climbing wall was recently completed at the Steamboat Springs Middle School.

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Nick Madden makes his way up the climbing wall at Steamboat Springs Middle School. The wall was built through a fundraising effort of more than $30,000 led by Everything Outdoor Steamboat and teacher Matt Tredway.

On the 'Net

Learn about Steamboat Springs Middle School's Everything Outdoor Steamboat education program on the Web at www.eosteamboat.o...>

Tree sale

The Steamboat Springs Middle School Tree Sale, to promote Earth Day and raise funds for Everything Outdoor Steamboat, science education and community tree planting, is under way and taking orders until April 30. Trees for sale include spruce, lilac, cottonwood, aspen, crabapple and more. Trees arrive May 2 and can be picked up in the middle school parking lot from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Contact teacher Matt Tredway at 871-3568, by fax at 870-0368 or e-mail at mtredway@sssd.k12.co.us

— As sixth-grader Malia Fraioli scaled a climbing wall like an adventurous spider Wednesday, teacher Matt Tredway wasn't only watching her hands.

"Good feet, good feet," Tredway coached Malia, guiding her to place her feet on miniscule holds and position her body for the next step.

"That's a nice move," he cheered as she wedged a hand in a crack and pushed herself upward with her legs.

Tredway teaches math, science and fitness at Steamboat Springs Middle School. He couldn't be happier about the new wall, a scraped concrete surface backed by what he called "a fierce steel structure." The wall is the result of months of fundraising and planning by the school's outdoor education program, Everything Outdoor Steamboat. Installed with the aid of Gunnison-based Integrated Design Solutions, the realistic climbing wall towers more than 30 feet above the school's main entrance and is outfitted with three auto-belay systems that suspend ropes from the top of the wall and allow students to safely climb without somebody belaying them on the ground. The tension of the ropes lowers climbers slowly to the ground when they fall off the wall.

"There's no mechanical failure," Tredway said, citing numerous safety and accident reports he studied to meet insurance requirements for the structure.

Tredway said the old wall, a plywood structure built in 1994, required about four adults on the ground to safely belay young climbers. The new system will allow much more activity, he said.

"We'll probably have at least 30 kids a day on this wall," Tredway said. "And some days a lot, lot more. : It will get a lot of use, and these kids will get some good technique."

The new wall has cost more than $30,000 so far, Tredway said. The middle school's tree sale - which is taking orders until April 30 - and private donors funded the project.

"The school hasn't paid for a dime of this," Tredway said.

More than $14,000 still is needed to fund aspects including a fourth auto-belay system and a floor covering at the base of the wall.

Members of the public soon could have a shot at ascending the challenging face, which includes an overhang and numerous tricky formations.

"We're going to have an open house in the next couple weeks," Tredway said, adding that the wall could eventually be open to the public for possibly a couple nights a week, likely for a low cost.

Sixth-grader Cara Piske already knows the wall well.

"The handholds get hard on the middle (route), because the crack doesn't go in that far up there," Cara said. "You have to find footholds to support you. : Your arms get so tired."

Malia had a different challenge Wednesday.

"My arms aren't long enough," she said as she slipped off the wall and determinedly prepared for another try. "I will get it."

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