YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Monday, Mill Creek MetroParks announced it was considering allowing for boulder climbing in a section of the park.
Behind Bears Den Cabin in Mill Creek Park is an outcrop of boulders that would be ideal for climbing.
“I wished there were more rocks here but the rocks that are here are good quality,” said Norm Swann, director of the Ohio Climbers Coalition.
One of his jobs is to gain access for climbers. Swann said these boulders would be perfect.
“It’s not a large area, it wouldn’t be a destination climbing area but for local folks, maybe you get off work, you come out, boulder for a couple hours, get some exercise.”
Right now, it’s illegal to climb the rocks at Mill Creek Park.
People do get hurt bouldering.
“It’s a sport like any other sport,” Swann said. “There are injuries.”
That’s why a big concern of park officials is liability.
Swann said it shouldn’t be because Ohio has a recreational use statute.
“It does limit liability for the landowner as long as they don’t charge a fee and it’s a recreational activity.”
If the MetroParks Board approves, it would only be for one of two rock or boulder climbing areas around Youngstown. The other is the Logtown area near Lisbon, but ropes are needed there.
At Mill Creek, though, Swann likes what he sees.
“There’s a lot of big holds. There’s a lot of big holds for the feet. It is a little overhung, which makes it a little more challenging,” he said.
But Swann likes a challenge.
The top two priorities of the Ohio Climbers Coalition in creating climbing areas are parking and the approach area to the climbing site.
Swann said the Bears Den area is perfect. It has abundant parking and an easy approach.