Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Rocktown Climbing Gym in Oklahoma City

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Rocktown Climbing Gym in Oklahoma City

Article excerpt

For decades, the grain elevator that sits just south of Interstate 40 across from Bricktown was a reminder of Oklahoma's agricultural history.

Over a century old, the silos tell a different story today. Inside, the grainy walls have been cleared out to include handholds and ropes as Rocktown Climbing Gym offers indoor and outdoor rock climbing to enthusiasts from Oklahoma and across the nation.

What started as a way to feed hungry settlers in the Plains states has now become a place that feeds the appetite for adventure and fitness.

The first set of grain silos was built in 1900, seven years before Oklahoma became a state, with the second set built in 1910.

In 1999, the all-concrete grain units sat empty until Freddy Harth purchased the lease to the facility and began transforming the old building into an indoor and outdoor climbing facility.

"Before Freddy Harth bought it, it was just an abandoned group of grain silos that were about a century old," said Rocktown instructor Brent Butcher. "It was sold in 1999 to Freddy, who was really into rock climbing."

The actual rock climbing gym was built inside the grain elevator, which includes 16 silos and areas in between. The climbs range from 90 feet to 155 feet, including one that scales the outside of the grain elevator that faces drivers along Interstate 40.

The routes that Harth installed along the walls of the silo all demanded the use of a security rope and a belay partner, according to the decimal ratings set forth by the Yosemite decimal system. For instance, any class rating in climbing above a 5.5 requires a rope and partner, and OKC Rocks (as it was called at the time) boasted of routes 5.6 and higher.

For almost a decade, Harth owned OKC Rocks until November 2007, when he sold the gym to climbers Aaron and Lisa Gibson and Touchstone Youth Project.

Nicole Hunzicker, director and founder of Touchstone Youth Project, used the OKC Rocks facility as a place for the agency to provide low-income youths with an adventure-based education and life skills. …

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