Rock-climbing rock-stars bring ‘Project American Fork’ film to USU

<strong>LOGAN—</strong> Rock climbs protected with metal bolts—called sport climbs—were established in Europe as early as the 1930s. But when Utah locals began the fledgling practice of uncovering and bolting steep, limestone routes in American Fork Canyon, Bruce Wilson says, the sport of rock climbing was changed forever.

The Outdoor Recreation Program at Utah State University will host a showing of Wilson’s film Project American Fork on Thursday. Proceeds from the showing will go toward a scholarship program for students who wish to enroll in outdoor leadership courses.

In the film, George Bruce Media set out to share the historic account of climbing route development in American Fork Canyon, known fondly by locals as AF, and the impact it had on the world climbing scene.

Wilson, the film’s director, wanted to capture and share the challenges faced by those responsible — including Boone Speed, a renowned professional photographer who has climbed some of the country’s hardest routes — for spurring the development that, he said, “revolutionized the sport as it is known today.”

“Most climbing films are about exotic, world-class areas,” Wilson said. “They focus, mostly, on the best climbers doing the world’s hardest routes. This film focuses on climbing history rather than new accomplishments, which I think is important for the new generation to understand and appreciate.”

When Speed, Jeff Pederson and Bill Boyle began establishing climbing routes in AF in 1988, they drew inspiration from the well-established sport climbing areas in Smith Rock State Park, Ore., Pederson said.

Some of the country’s most difficult climbs, at that time, could be found on Smith Rock’s vertical walls of tuff and basalt. But the transition to the steep, powerful style of climbing that is commonplace today can be largely attributed to the early days of development in AF, Wilson said.

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