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Continued: Climbing league drives Twin Cities members up the wall

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 19, 2014 - 4:27 PM

That philosophy is what led her to pair Doug Gordon of Maple Grove with Windy Torgerud of Blaine. Having given birth to her second child 18 months ago, Torgerud is just getting into climbing, while Gordon has been doing it for 21 years.

“I have sort of a coaching addiction and she’s new at this, so this should be perfect,” he said.

Indeed, it wasn’t long into one of Torgerud’s climbs that Gordon started thinking of tips he could share with her.

“She’s trying to lift herself up with her hands too much,” he said as she clung to a wall about two-thirds of the way up a 60-foot climb. “Most climbing is done with your feet. Instinctively, you think you should be using your hands, but it’s much easier to lift your body weight with your feet.”

When she got back down, Torgerud nodded as she listened to Gordon’s advice. “My fingers turned to jelly up there,” she admitted.

A league of their own

Fatigue is an issue even for veteran climbers. League rules allow participants to make as many climbs as they want over a four-hour period, with the three best scores counting. As the evening goes on, the time that climbers spend between ascents lengthens.

The breaks give people time to network, which is one of the league’s goals, too.

“I’ve gotten to know people that I wouldn’t normally meet,” acknowledged Dan Zoslavsky of Minneapolis.

There’s a practical aspect to meeting other climbers, Gordon said. Climbers need a belayer, the person on the ground who secures the safety rope and adjusts its length as the climber scales the wall. When he goes to the gym to practice, he needs to recruit other climbers to help.

“You can ask a stranger, but I’d rather look around for a friendly face,” Gordon said.

The notion of trying to perform better each week is a challenge that most of the climbers relish.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Mitch Buzzo said. “I like running around here competing with myself. And so far, I’m winning.”


Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392


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