Rock climbing’s history and rising popularity inspires Seattle festival

2015 has been an exciting year for climbing, and Seattle Parks and Recreation is set to celebrate it all with the Camp Long Mountain Fest on Sept. 13, 2015. 

Schurman Rock at Camp Long

Rock climbing is fast becoming the sport of choice for many in search of an athletic activity with both grit and Zen. Climbing, it seems, is scaling into the mainstream. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, more than 10 million people in the United States participate in rock climbing at some level, and Seattleites in particular have embraced this sport with a passion, with rock climbing gyms and venues, indoor and outdoor­, growing exponentially. To celebrate both this coming-of-age time for the sport of climbing and Seattle’s long-standing mountain and climbing history/community, Seattle Parks and Recreation will open its historic Camp Long for a Mountain Festival on Sept. 13, 2015, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.—where anyone, from the novice to the hard-core enthusiast, can put hands on the rocks and get feet off the ground.

Visitors to the Camp Long Mountain Fest will find an exhilarating mix of climbing, conviviality and challenge. They can test themselves on the high ropes course* and swap stories afterward, or simply enjoy some downtime and spirited conversation with kindred climbers. Vertical World, a local climbing gym, will operate a climbing wall where individuals can scale the same rock that Clark Schurman and Fred Beckey, living legends among Northwest mountaineers, used to practice on*. Mountain Madness, a West Seattle climbing guide and mountaineering company, will run a rappel station down the camp’s “Glacier Wall.” Visitors will also find numerous vendor booths, mountain games and interactive workshops for people of all ages and abilities—and there will be prizes.

With a nod to the past, Camp Long and the Seattle Bouldering Project will also conduct a special outdoor bouldering clinic on Schurman Rock.

*Space for climbing and ropes course is limited, so we encourage early arrival to the festival and sign-up. Waivers are required for all climbing activities and will be available at the lodge.

Schurman Rock was constructed between 1938 and 1939 by the Works Progress Administration, and is believed to be the first man-made climbing structure in America. It was originally named Monitor Rock because climbing instructors could monitor their students from all sides of the structure. In 1957, it was renamed to honor its designer, Clark Schurman, who saw the need for novice climbers to have a practice rock and thus created it. Schurman, known as “The Chief,” was the chief climbing guide on Mount Rainier from 1938 to 1941. He loved mountaineering for all that it has to offer, and his Rock stands to this day as a legacy to his vision.

Last but not least, Erden Eruc, a Turkish adventurer and the first person in history to complete an entirely solo and human-powered circumnavigation of Earth, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the event. Eruc’s list of accolades and awards include the Men’s Journal 2015 list of 50 most adventurous men, the Outside Magazine 2013 Adventurer of the year list, and the Explorers Club 2013 Citation of Merit. Now a Seattleite, Eruc focuses full-time on his nonprofit foundation, Around-n-Over, and its goals of inspiring and informing young people. Festival participants will delight in hearing Eruc share insights and experiences from his life of purpose and adventure.

All events are free and take place at Camp Long (5200 35th Ave. SW). Located in West Seattle, this 68-acre park offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy nature, hike in the forest, camp overnight in rustic cabins, rock climb and learn about natural history. A talented staff of naturalists and ropes course staff lead ongoing group environmental education and rock climbing classes. Programs at Camp Long are designed to be fun, educational and interactive experiences for all ages.

For more information about the Camp Long Mountain Fest, please call 206-423-3460 or visit Camp Long Mountain Fest is sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Associated Recreation Council, O2 Outdoor Opportunities, Vertical World, Seattle Bouldering Project, Second Ascent, Mountain Madness, The Mountaineers, The Access Fund, American Alpine Club and Carabiner Coffee.

* A waiver for these activities will be available at the festival entrance information booth.



Camp Long hosts free overnight campout

Young barred owl at Camp Long

Camp Long and the National Wildlife Federation hosted a campout for High Point Seattle Housing Authority families last month.

On Saturday, June 20, 67 people participated in a free overnight nature immersion experience.

For the third year the Camp Long Environmental Learning Center partnered with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) for NWF’s annual national initiative the “Great American Backyard Campout,” which aims to get more families outside.

This year’s event included partners Kofi and Amma Anang of Ocheami Culture Club. The pair brought West African drums and storytelling to the campfire program. Other special guests visited the participants during their night walks. The group spotted juvenile barred owls at very close range, within 5 feet.  For many it was a first time experience that they will never forget.

Camp Long will have another campout on Friday Aug. 14. To register for the event, call Yeggy Michael at the Nature Consortium at 206-923-0853.

Enchantment in the trees: Experiential Play and Zip camp at Camp Long

Shake things up this summer and spend a day suspended high up in the trees. West Seattle’s Camp Long is hosting eight sessions of Enchantment Experiential Play and Zip camp at the high ropes challenge course. Play and zipline with your friends 40 feet above the ground.

The experience is open to ages 14 and older and costs $30 per person. Sessions are Saturdays July 11 and 25; Aug. 8 and 22. The available time slots are 9:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. or 1:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

To register for a session, call 206-684-7434 or email

Start your summer camp adventure at Seattle Parks’ Camp Long

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites youth ages 11-13 to summer Adventure Camps at Camp Long Environmental Learning Center. These camps expose kids to fun outdoor activities, environmental topics, leadership skills and team development.

Participants will take day trips to try out different outdoor activities like kayaking, rock climbing and hiking. No experience is necessary, but campers must attend camp orientation on June 18 and complete a float test.

The three different camps offered are:

Rock Climbing, June 22-26, registration barcode 133772
Rock Climbing Adventure Camp consists of Challenge Course experiences and rock climbing at Schurman Rock, Magnuson Park, Seattle Bouldering Project and Olallie State Park.

Natural Challenges, June 29-July 23, registration barcode 133773
Natural Challenges Adventure Camp promotes strong leadership skills through nature activities. Campers will experience challenges to encourage teamwork, leadership, survival techniques and stewardship.

Terra Aqua, July 6-10, registration barcode 133774
Terra Aqua Adventure Camp consists of Challenge Course experiences, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, stand up paddle boarding and canoeing.

Participants must fill out the application below and turn them into the Camp Long Environmental Learning Center at 5200 35th Ave SW in West Seattle. In addition to filling out the application, campers register here:

For more information, please call Seth Wendzel, Seattle Parks Environmental Learning Center staff, at 541-286-0169.

All campers must attend a mandatory orientation from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, at Camp Long. The cost for the week-long camp is $350. The payment covers registration, a float test, gear, transportation and snacks for the week. It is recommended that students bring a pack with lunches, a hat and water bottle each day.

Scholarships are available. See application below.

Registration materials:

Camp application: Camp Application

Scholarship application: Scholarship Application


Seattle Parks to offer ‘challenge course’ facilitator training at Camp Long

Seattle Parks and Recreation worked with Washington State University Extension 4-H to build a “challenge course” in the trees in West Seattle’s Camp Long. In 2015, interested members of the public are invited to join other educators and counselors in learning how to use adventure education to promote team building and personal development in their communities.

The introduction to facilitator training takes place Wednesday through Friday, Jan. 28-30, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The cost is $240. The low-course facilitator training takes place Tuesday through Thursday, March 10 and 12, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The cost is $240. The high-course facilitator training 1 (hub and spoke course with dual ziplines, ropes rescue) takes place Tuesday through Thursday, April 21-23, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The cost is $240. The high-course facilitator training 2 (vertical playpen and trapeze jump, M-Belay systems) takes place Wednesday and Thursday, May 6-7, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The cost is $160.

The training location is 5200 35th Ave SW at Camp Long in West Seattle. Camping is available during the training.

After successful completion of the training, participants will be able to facilitate events at the Camp Long challenge course. The course is designed to meet the 4-H certification requirements to host and facilitate group activities at Camp Long. Certified facilitators receive reduced rates when bringing their own groups. The trainings are designed to sequence together.

At the Camp Long course, several elements of the ropes course are integrated into the forested areas. WSU 4–H, through 30 years of adventure education experience, has developed curricula that strengthen critical life skills including decision making, self-confidence, positive risk taking, self-esteem, teamwork, and leadership.

For more information and to sign up for the challenge course training, please contact Challenge Course Manager Ken Turner at 206-684-7434 or

Camp Long is one of Seattle’s best kept secrets. Located in West Seattle, this 68-acre oasis in the city offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy nature, hike in the forest, camp overnight in rustic cabins, rock climb, learn about natural history, and visit or rent the rustic Lodge. For more information, see