Professor Climbing to New Heights
Whether or not Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, there are still some who hope for ice instead of an early spring.
“When most people are complaining that it’s very cold outside, I love that, because we know the ice is solidifying,” says recreation management professor Stacy Taniguchi, who makes a hobby of scaling frozen cliffs. “In a good year, I’ll try to get out and climb four or five times at least.”
A “good year” for Taniguchi and fellow ice climbers means long stretches of temperatures in the teens and low twenties. Much lower and the ice becomes brittle and more dangerous to scale.
The danger, however, is part of the thrill for Taniguchi.
“I guess they call us adrenaline junkies,” he says. “You’re pushing the envelope. You feel like you’re in control, but there’s still some doubt. If you’re successful at it, it’s like you’ve mastered nature. You’ve done something that not many people could do.”
And not many people have done it. For the brave few who do, Utah is the place.
“There is so much to do here,” Taniguchi says. “People from other parts of the world will come to Utah to ski, to mountain bike, to rock climb, and to ice climb, because it’s all here.”
Utah is marked as a prime location for a slew of outdoor activities, which has earned the state widespread accolades in the recreation community. In fact, Utah was named the top travel destination in the world by Fodor’s Travel for 2016, highlighting the state’s abundance of opportunities for every type of adventurer.
“In Utah we have so much variety for outdoor recreation,” Taniguchi says. “It’s the only place that I can think of where you can powder ski in the morning and then play nine holes of golf in the afternoon. You can get the best of both worlds.”