Not all climbers enjoy park’s popularity |

Not all climbers enjoy park’s popularity

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Courtesy of the Rifle Creek Museum

RIFLE MOUNTAIN PARK – Not all climbers are enamored with the popularity of Rifle Mountain Park, or the type of people it attracts.New Castle’s John Wallace fits that mold. A 20-year climbing veteran, Wallace finds the climbing lifestyle repulsive – to put it mildly.

“Most climbers are total dirtbags,” he said. “They live out of their cars. It was really fun when I was in my 20s, but I am really not down with it now. I kinda just wish everybody would leave, honestly. But (the climbing’s) too good. It will never happen.”Wallace, 36, has been visiting Rifle Mountain Park since 1992. He’s seen the park’s popularity explode since its formative years as a sports climbing destination. “Things start getting clogged up on the popular routes,” he complained. “There’s more cars, more erosion, more trash.”

Wallace seems miffed at the trendiness of the “climber lifestyle,” that it’s less about climbing and more about latching onto something popular.”It’s not so much about being a rock climber,” he said. “You talk to some of these people and they talk about the climber lifestyle. It’s just two stages away from being hippies and following the (Grateful) Dead around.”Yesteryear saw Wallace embrace a similar lifestyle, though he insists his reasoning vastly differed. He, too, has lived out of a van, traveling around to different climbing destinations. And his curmudgeonly exterior doesn’t entirely veil his love for climbing.

“It was more like I didn’t want to work and that was a good way to get out it,” he said with a grin. “I think I am old and jaded. The kids are having a good time.” But Wallace is quick to point out he’s no longer a kid.”Now I have a house and a life and I come out and climb because I really enjoy it and it keeps me in shape.”

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