Military News

Friday, August 07, 2015

Getting a rock-solid grip with the ORC

by Airman Christopher R. Morales
JBER Public Affairs

8/6/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Sometimes life may have you between a rock and a hard place. When climbing, that hard place is the ground. The only thing stopping anyone from reaching the top is oneself ... or the end of the rope, whichever breaks first.

The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Outdoor Recreation Center offers outdoor rock-climbing trips which provide tips and proper technique in all their activities.

"The reason rock climbing is available this year is because we have two people who are expert climbers," said Dave Mazur, a guide with the ORC. "All of our guides have a lot of experience, and [are] trained in outdoor and wilderness medical procedures and first response."

Mazur said there are a lot of trails along the Seward Highway making trips like these very accessible to JBER residents, yet these other options to explore won't be available without more customers taking advantage of the program.

One of these spots is Boy Scout Rock in the McHugh Creek State Recreational Area of Chugach State Park along the Seward Highway, the focus of most of the trips which has climbs ranging from beginner to more advanced trails.

"You can come here with climbing history and still be challenged," Mazur said.

"We are hoping to grow this Outdoor Adventure program every year and by doing that we need to offer more stuff and give military members and their families a chance to see Alaska at a great price with a great group of people."

Karl Lavtar, guide with the ORC, instructs the participants on proper terminology, climbing basics and tips.

The ORC provides a harness, helmet and shoes fitted prior to the trip, though participants can bring their own.

Other necessities are available as well such as a first-aid kit, climbing rope and anchors.

"There are bolts anchored in Boy Scout Rock with hangers, which are checked manually throughout the season," Lavtar said.

The ORC supplies webbing to better fortify the anchor, so if one component were to give out, the anchor doesn't slip away.

Another handy tool is chalk.

"We do have a chalk bag. We use chalk if the rock is a little wet or your hands get sweaty," Lavtar said.

Lavtar provides climbing tips, so beginning climbers start with a firm grounding.

"You should use your legs a lot and your hands for more balancing," Lavtar said. "Sometimes you have to pull all your weight up with your arms. But if you use only your upper body, you will overwork them really quick.

"When climbing, you want to have your hips closer to the wall," Lavtar said."It's always good to have three points of contact and take small steps.

"If you're using more muscle, you want to be efficient."

"Come on out, support the rock climbing as well as other trips. They are geared for anybody and you don't have to have experience at all," Mazur said.

"We have different challenge levels for those who are more experienced and everything we do is challenge-by-choice. The goal is to have fun, allow you to do something and  see Alaska for a little bit."

Just like any event, the ORC wouldn't be on these trips if people didn't participate.

Not only do the trips provide a few hours of meeting new people, but a chance to see Alaska from a new perspective - like atop a big rock.

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