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Pocatello Pump is celebrating its 30th anniversary Sept. 17-18 at Pocatello’s Ross Park

September 2, 2011
ISU Marketing and Communications

In its 30th year, the Idaho State University Pocatello Pump set Sept. 17 and 18 is the oldest rock climbing competition in the United States.

It takes place on the basalt cliffs of Pocatello's Ross Park, and runs from 7 a.m. to early afternoon Saturday, Sept. 17.

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. 18, at 8 a.m. The awards ceremony is at 6 p.m.

The cost for pre-registrants before Friday, Sept. 16 at 5 p.m. is $30. Those registering on-site pay $35. All participants who register before Sept. 9 will 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

"The emphasis of the Pocatello Pump is placed on the fun of climbing," said Peter Joyce, Pump director and ISU outdoor recreation coordinator. "We play down the competitive aspect of the event, which I believe has led to the event's success."

While it has outgrown rather humble beginnings, the Pump has kept the family-type atmosphere for which it is noted.

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, the climber risks a fall while climbing above pre-placed gear. The climber clips the rope into the gear while climbing past it.

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 top rope categories, the climber is attached to a rope that has been already secured at the top of the rock before the climb. Both types of climbing requires a belayer to manage the other end of the rope to safe guard the climber. Climbers must provide their own belayer. 

On both days, climbers are given a set amount of time in which to complete as many climbs as their arms will allow.

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

The Pump is a fundraiser 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 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.

A letter writing campaign, protesting the proposed climbing closure at nearby Massacre Rocks, will be sponsored by the local climbers. There will be a booth to educate and inform climbers about this heated issue. A raffle drawing will reward those that take the time to write a letter protesting this proposal.






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