Fair sees new heights

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Once upon a time, anyone who wanted to go rock-climbing had go someplace a little more mountainous than Mower County.

Times have changed, though, and this year, people of all ages can climb the 28-foot-tall Getta Grip Rock-Climbing Simulator at the Mower County Fair.

Owners Denise and Chuck Hillstrom say they have traveled to fairs throughout the country for the past three years with their rock-climbing wall. Chuck explains they gave up their video imaging business for their love of rock climbing after they saw a free-standing wall for sale. "We said to ourselves, 'this is it, this is what we've got to do,'" he says.

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"We take it with us wherever we go. We live in the RV. We're vagabonds," he says, happily. "We're in the north for the summer and in the winter we go to Texas and Arizona."

This year, he says the couple plans to go to 14 fairs and that wherever they go, their rock-climbing wall is always popular.

"Rock climbing is very popular now and its popularity is growing," Chuck says. "Part of the reason is because of new portable walls like this which came out in the '90s and because of rock climbing gyms. They make rock climbing more accessible to people and it's a lot cheaper. I think in a lot of people, it's an inherent thing to want to climb. I'm that way myself."

The Hillstrom's wall consists of four "courses" people can climb -- a beginner route, "Kilimanjaro"; two intermediate routes "Mt. McKinley" and "Mt. Everest"; and an expert route, "K2."

Tuesday afternoon, Jordan Rossler, 9, of Newton, Iowa took on Mt. McKinley. He said it was the first time he'd ever climbed a rock-climbing wall and he thought "it was really cool when I got to the top," even though it was a little hard and kind of scary on the way up.

For a complete list of Thursday’s events at the Mower County Fair, see Wednesday’s print edition of the Austin Daily Herald – available at news racks around the area.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at :mailto:amanda.rohde@austindailyherald.com