Ogden Rock Climber and Local Artist Eric Zschiesche on His Way up to Schoolroom

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Climbing at Schoolroom is not for the faint of heart. The word schoolroom connotes a place for beginners— a place where one can learn.  Personally,  I would not want to climb my first 5.9 at Schoolroom. The climbs are some what exposed and the bolting does not induce a calm state of mind. Perhaps Schoolroom is named because it is right above Saint Joe’s. The climbs span the entire cliff from North to South. Once you are up on the 4×4 ledge you can get to all of them by traversing. There are two ways to get up to the 4×4 ledge.   One is the trail head at 22nd street. Take this way and you will pass four easy sport routes on a sloping grassy ramp, referred to as The Ramp Routes. If you have dogs or children and are looking for easy to moderate climbs, this is a good place to start.

If you have dogs or children, The Ramp is also a good place to stop because the approach to the north side of Schoolroom can be dangerous and exposed. Someone attached  cable to the rock in a few exposed spots, so you have something to hold on to as you traverse. This mitigates the exposure. Of course some hard ass climber complained the cable is unnecessary, but hey, if it keeps even one person from plummeting to their death, then I’m all for it. That person could be me!

The other approach to Schoolroom is from the 27th street trailhead. From there, hike to the upper boulder field then up the giant scree field. The Ogden Trails network put some stone steps at the top where the trail has eroded.

While the climbing at School Room might not be considered world-class, proximity to home makes it a great destination for Ogdenites who don’t want to waste gas and time driving somewhere else. When you get to the top of the scree field and the beginning of the cliff, you can either do a 5th class scramble or a roped climb to get to the 4×4 ledge where the majority of the climbs are.

School Room is shady until about noon. It is perfect for summer mornings or winter/spring/fall afternoons. I’ve climbed there comfortably in January and uncomfortably at every other time of the year. The hornets and the Box Elder bugs can pose problems for the insect-wary climber. Sometimes the rock is literally swarming with hornets. Although the hornets are lethargic, I personally do not like to stare into their beady alien-like eyes as I’m climbing, especially on lead. I have a fondness for Box Elder bugs and feel some remorse for squashing them. A climb named Box Elder Salsa was inspired by this experience. In this case, salsa isn’t a dance it’s the sauce of bug parts and juice that stains your fingers while climbing.

Eric Z is one of the few people I know who is always up for a day at School Room. He is a legend in the climbing world and also an accomplished artist. Eric Z, or the Zmeister, Zman has many aliases bestowed upon him by friends and partners who are afraid to mispronounce his real name. He is not only known for his lean strength and climbing prowess, but also for his unique approach to life and climbing. He has a Zen like way about him and a lightness of being that helps him float up rock faces, sometimes barefoot. In John Sherman’s book; Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide to American Bouldering, Eric Zschiesche was named one of America’s top 50 boulderers—and one of climbing’s most colorful characters. When he is not dancing on rock you may find him painting local landscapes or playing chess at GFC. Check out his artwork at http://www.ericzschiesche.com/

At present, Colby Wayment’s, Ogden Area Climbing Guide: From Brigham City to Echo Canyon, is the most up to date guide to School Room.

Alison McLennan recently graduated from the Solstice MFA Program of Pine Manor College where she was awarded the first Dennis Lehane Fellowship for Fiction. Her first novel, Falling for Johnny, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Utah Original Writing Competition. She is currently working on a historical novel set in Ogden. She loves rock-climbing, mountain biking and most anything involving snow, especially fluffy powder.