Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University home

26th annual Pocatello Pump is Sept. 15-16

September 7, 2007
ISU Marketing and Communications

Although organizers of the Idaho State University Pocatello Pump stress friendly rock climbing for people of all ages, the element of competition is still there.

In its 26th year, the Pump is the oldest bouldering competition in the United States. It takes place on the basalt cliffs of Pocatello’s Ross Park, and runs from 8 a.m. to early afternoon Saturday, Sept. 15. The Pump takes most of the afternoon off so participants can take advantage of the CW HOG Pig Out dinner adjacent to the climbing area.

Climbing resumes Sunday, Sept. 16, at 7 a.m. The awards ceremony is at 6 p.m.

The cost for preregistrants 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 Campus Box 8128, drop by the office in the Pond Student Union Building, or register online at

“I believe the success of the Pocatello Pump is due to the emphasis placed on the fun of climbing. We play down the competition aspect of the event,” says Peter Joyce, Pump director and ISU outdoor recreation coordinator. “Even though folks climb like there’s no tomorrow, they seem to be having fun doing so.”

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 says. “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. We’ve done a good job sticking to our roots.”

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), Shawangunks (New York) and Red Rocks (Nevada). In leading categories, bolts are already embedded in the rock and the climber attaches a rope to them during the climb.

The nonleading, or top rope, categories are Smith Rocks (Oregon), Seneca Rocks (West Virginia), Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons (Utah) for children and Everest (Nepal) for the physically challenged. 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 with points awarded on the basis of each climb’s difficulty. Leading category competitors climb 90 minutes, nonleading 60 minutes. Each participant must attempt as many climbs as possible in the time allotted.

There will be sponsors’ booths on-site, including a shoe and harness demo.

The Pump is a fundraiser for the climbing community.

“We try to give back to the community that supports the Pump,” Joyce says.

Proceeds support the Access Fund, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to educating climbers on environmental and climbing issues, and the ISU Terry Kranning Climber’s Scholarship, which awards $1,000 to two students annually. Money left over is used to purchase belay and rappel anchors at nearby City of Rocks, Castle Rocks and Massacre Rocks.

For more information on the Pocatello Pump, call the Outdoor Adventure Center at (208) 282-3912, or visit the Internet site


University News