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Artificial Climbing Structures: Climbing Walls: Climbing Gyms: Bouldering Walls: Lead Climbing Walls: Traversing Walls: Boulders: Mobile Walls:

What is a Climbing Wall

Bildering And Bilderers
Geoffrey Windthrop Young
Arthur Pinner

First True Climbing Structure
Clark Schurman
Camp Long

Post War Development

1960's Boom
Britians First Climbing Walls

1970's Development

Climbing Wall Manufacturers

Bendcrete Climbing Walls

DR Climbing Walls

University Walls
Brunel University
Spire Rock
University of Washington

The 1980's Wall Development
The invention of the bolt on Hold

First Commercial Climbing Centre
Vertical, In Seattle
Mile End, London

The 1990's Beginning of the Golden Age

21st Century Climbing Walls and the Future


Known formally as Spanaway Ice & Rock Education, the construction of SPIRE Rock began in 1974, and took two years. It was dedicated on August 11, 1976 and is the first artificial climbing structure known where lead protection, such as slings and stoppers, can be placed. Remember this is 1976, so no bolts and no friends. It is also one of the first open access climbing facilities known.


All work was performed by volunteers - from mixing mortar to pumping concrete to hoisting white granite. Manpower was also contributed by the U.S. Army and the use of their 40-ton crane and the Corps of Engineers who helped transport the rocks used to create the facility. Built by volunteers, this is a small man made rock on the outskirts of Tacoma WA.

Echo9ers photo of the SPIRE Rock taken on March 3, 2009
Echo9er's picture of Spire Rock, taken on March 3, 2009
Possible 5.10 climb on Spire Rock. First open access artificial climbing facility with lead protection facilities

The Spire Rock, on the outskirts of Tacoma, WA. One of the first known open access artificial climbing facilities and the first to be built with lead protection

The Climbing
It has 35 listed routes ranging from 5.0 to 5.11 with variations on the listed routes possible. All can be top roped via an easy scramble route to the top. Anchors are solid. there are no bolted routes, however there are good routes for practising setting protection. The routes consist of chunky face climbs, crimping face climbs, and some nice cracks, chimneys, and small roofs. There is a nice bouldering traverse as well.

Environment and Access
At the time of writing the rock could use a power wash cleaning, some holds and footing are extremely slippery. There can be problems with non climbers playing around on the rock. Many are respectful to climbers but some are not. Please be sure to "nicely" correct those that are not respectful and report those that need reporting to the nearby recreation centre. There is another small bouldering rock near by that has a lot of broken glass, biting ants and giant wolf spiders (not poisonous but it hurts when they bite).

Find Spire Rock,-122.442522
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Page Acknowledgements and References:

  • Echo9er - for the image of Spire Rock - More photos from Echo9er's photostream Here
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