By Jamie Leary

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Pick any outdoor activity- skiing, biking, hiking, rafting, camping, fishing… all are seeing increases in people, along with delays in gear production as suppliers recover from COVID-19 to keep up with demand. That includes daring, more technical activities.

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“It seems like a lot of people now are transitioning from indoor climbing,” said Tim Dailey, climbing manager with Neptune Mountaineering. “All the gyms closing forced a lot of people outside which is great, cause I think the best part of climbing is the places you go and the places it takes you, but with that many people, and it’s not like everybody’s out to destroy the outdoors, but it’s like a death by a thousand cuts… tape scraps here, orange peels there, and when you have so many people that are going to really a small percentage of areas, your helf roads, your Clear Creeks, your Boulder Canyons… it’s just getting a little crowded.”

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Dailey has been climbing for more than a decade and not only is he noticing his favorite spots getting more crowded, gear sales at Neptune are through the roof.

“I do know in talking with our buyer that it’s been hard to get orders fulfilled. A lot of things are backordered a month or two but we’re doing our best. We’re reaching out to small little pockets of gear companies and making sure we’ve got what we need,” said Dailey.

A large portion of the sales, Dailey says come from novice climbers. While he’s is thrilled there’s new interest, he also worries that many novice climbers may be used to the safety of a gym.

“Outside is a different story you see like our wall is a little bit lower angle, there are some ledges the bolts might be a little farther apart than you’re used to, so I think that catches a lot of people off guard and just the lengths of the routes, and just the exposure- it gets a lot of people.”

Dailey recommends going with an experienced guide or friends and on Wednesday, he took CBS4’s Jamie Leary and photographer Eric Blumer to White Cliffs just outside of Frisco.

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“The most important rule- people always think it’s, don’t fall,” he told Leary, “but the reason why we have all these safety systems in place is so you can fall. So, the number one rule is pay attention. Pay attention to your climber, pay attention to the weather, you know everything that’s going on around you.”

Along with Dailey was Summit County resident Mark Mannheimer who has been climbing since the ’70s. While the gear has changed since Mannheimer started climbing, like Dailey, the most noticeable difference has been the crowds.

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“There’s a huge number of people are going into climbing and the biggest reason is because people got sick of going to the sports gyms and now, they’re going to Eldorado and the Flat Irons, Boulder Canyon, Lumpy Ridge. They’re all going to be crowded this summer, so my word is that- be safe have a good rope, know what you’re doing and have a good partner” said Mannheimer.

He still has his gear from the ’70s but when asked if the advancement of the gear has made climber easier, or more accessible for others, he said no.

“Being a climber is still all about ability. The rope is there to protect you, but climbing is 100% on you,” he said.

Dailey agreed and said while he’s excited for the novice climbers to share the experience, there are rules to follow, because with an increase in people comes an increased chance for injury. He says communication with your partner is key, but it’s also key with the crowds around you.

“If you show up to a crowded crag, talk to the people around you. Figure out what everybody’s plan is. I feel like there can be this territorial surfer mentality when you show up to one of these walls and everybody’s mean mugging everybody. Just talk. Open up a conversation ‘Hey what route are you guys on?’” Dailey continued, “We can all share our knowledge and share these places without, you know feeling animosity toward each other.”

Dailey got emotional when he remembered one of his favorite pieces of advice, given to him by his climbing friend, Clark Jacobs, who passed away this last year.

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“A moment of carelessness can undo a lifetime of caution,” he said.

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If you’re interested in the world of outdoor climbing, Neptune Mountaineering is hosting an anniversary event June 12 through June 21. It will include gear sales, presentations from employees and accomplished mountaineers, and chances to chat with the pros.

Jamie Leary