Trigo-Pasado Park, a small parcel of grassy lawn in Isla Vista, was boosted into prominence this weekend when it became the home of the first free public rock-climbing wall in California.
The 11-foot tall spire, which has been under construction for the past 10 months, opened to the public at an unveiling ceremony held Saturday at 2 p.m. The approximately 40 people who showed up at the park – which is located between the 6600 blocks of Trigo and Pasado Road – for the event were treated to climbing demonstrations from Danielle Siano, who manages the rock wall at Goleta Valley Athletic Club, and sophomore anthropology major Evan Horvath, a member of the adventure club, as well as a musical performance by the Colter-Frazier Quartet, a local jazz band.
The $109,000 project, organized by the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD), is the first free outdoor rock wall available for public use in the state. Each face of the four-sided wall varies in climbing difficulty.
IVRPD General Manager Derek Johnson said the district installed the climbing wall to encourage I.V. residents to take part in healthy recreational activities.
“Ninety percent of the people who live in Isla Vista are young, outgoing adults who like to do stuff outside,” Johnson said. “Generally, they don’t have a lot of money. This is free adult recreation – we just want to let people know the park is open and get them out to do healthy active recreation.”
Johnson said the money to build the wall came from a state grant intended to improve park safety throughout California. He said planning for the wall started in July 2004, and construction began last December.
The rock wall is open from 8 a.m. until dusk, and is prohibited for use by children under six years of age;, while climbers less than 13 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Johnson said no more than four people may climb the wall at one time, and he said only soft-soled athletic shoes may be worn when climbing. Alcohol is prohibited when using the wall, climbers may not sit, stand or climb on the very top of the wall, and climbing equipment that has to be attached to the wall is not permitted, Johnson said.
“You’re not supposed to climb to the top of the wall,” Johnson said. “You’re supposed to use common sense and not be drunk or intoxicated: Exercise caution.”
Johnson said no official attendants will monitor the wall’s use, and said all individuals are responsible for supervising themselves on the apparatus. He said the ground surrounding the rock wall is covered with a rubberlike, all-weather material designed to cushion any fall up to 12 feet.
IVRPD director Diane Conn said she is excited about the addition of the rock wall to the park, but said she still has some concerns regarding public safety.
“It’s great recreation for people of all ages, and that is what we have in I.V.,” Conn said. “I just hope people will come out and enjoy themselves and not hurt themselves, not get smashed and then play rock wall.”
Logan Green, chair of the IVRPD board of directors, said he is not worried that anyone will be injured while climbing the wall, and said the IVRPD is covered by insurance, should an injury occur.
“People have to be responsible for themselves,” Green said. “The rock is built to safety standards and we are completely covered by insurance. It is really difficult to hurt yourself on a rock like this.”
Horvath, who gave climbing lessons to those who attended the grand opening, said he hopes the addition of the wall will encourage more people to take up rock climbing.
“I think it is a great complement to the rock-climbing community we have,” Horvath said. “It’s great to have, especially in conjunction with the one on campus.”
David Anfenson, a 13-year-old Santa Barbara resident, said he thought the climbing wall could have been bigger, but said portions of the rock were still difficult to climb.
“Personally, I think it is a little short, but just because it is short doesn’t mean it is easy,” Anfenson said. “I have been [at the most difficult side of the wall] for a really long time and no one has been able to get to the top except for the adults with really long arms.”
Green said he is pleased with the completed park, and said he was also excited that Isla Vista now houses the first public climbing wall of its kind.
“The park district is trying to provide as much outdoor recreation as we can,” Green said. “It’s a great example of what can be done with a park to liven it up.”