Back to Military Life

Rock climbing, your style

MWR’s Outdoor Recreation program offers group adventures

Capt. Amanda Burroughs, 62nd Operations Group, is lowered down Mount Erie during a rock-climbing trip with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Outdoor Recreation program. Photo credit: Brittany Catanzaro

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

If you've been climbing at indoor rock-climbing gyms and want to take it to the next level -- transition to climbing outdoors with an experienced guide through the Outdoor Recreation program. Climbing trips are a great option for beginners, with opportunities to learn the basics of the sport.

I joined one of the trips and, even though I lacked experience with climbing, I still had a blast while the instructor guided me and encouraged me to climb.

The day before our rock-climbing trip, we met as a group at Adventures Unlimited on Lewis North, to understand the fundamentals of sport climbing with an emphasis on how to properly belay.

We also met our wonderful instructor, Berndt Bittlingmaier, who has been climbing for 20 years.

During the meeting, we each received quality climbing gear to use on our trip -- harness, helmet, two pairs of climbing shoes, carabiners, gloves, ropes and assisted breaking devices -- all essential equipment for sport climbing outdoors.

The next morning, we all climbed into the ODR van to begin our trip to Mount Erie, a climbing destination located south of Anacortes. Climbers from all over flock to this sport-climbing location to take in the gorgeous views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains. The spot features three main climbing walls: Powerline Wall, the Snag Buttress and Summit Wall.

When we arrived, we were blessed with perfect warm weather, beautiful partly cloudy skies, a cool breeze and clear views of the lakes and islands.

We started the trip at the summit, appropriately named Summit Wall. While looking down at the stunning views, we all stared in awe at vast views of the surrounding lakes, islands and Puget Sound.

After Bittlingmaier set up the anchors and tossed the ropes down the wall, we hiked and scrambled down a rocky path to get to the base. It was a short scramble but also lots of fun to have to use all of your limbs to climb down.

Once we arrived at the base of Summit Wall, we were all eager to start climbing. Each of us scanned the giant wall, determining which route would be the best way up. While taking turns, we set up belays and performed safety checks while some of the group began the climb. Those of us still at the base began to cheer them on.

While climbing the routes, I found you can choose your adventure based off of how high you feel comfortable climbing, and the type of route and speed -- from easy to difficult.

After we were satisfied, Bittlingmaier showed us the way to Powerline Wall. We were having a truly great time as we climbed up and down rocky paths to make our way there.

Soon, we were at the top where Bittlingmaier set up the anchors. We all headed down to the base of the wall and each took turns climbing up a few different routes he had set up for us, all while having a great time laughing and talking with each other. We spent a few hours at Powerline until we were all satisfied and decided it was time to end the trip and head home.


  • Learn the techniques to climb without a guide and feel confident with the techniques.
  • While climbing, develop trust with yourself, partners and gear, which are important in order to build confidence while climbing.
  • For those interested in finding out about future climbing trips hosted by Joint Base Lewis-McChord Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, email

Read next close


'The Simpsons' invade TAM

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search