Climbing Up For Air Was a Concept Born out of Misery

Climbing Up For Air Was a Concept Born out of Misery

  • Posted by Kaleigh
  • On January 29, 2019
  • Comments

One day in the winter of 2017, I found myself lingering with a co-worker after a meeting in the conference room of The Front Climbing Club, SLC. I looked out the 3rd floor window, which usually hosts breathtaking views of the Wasatch Range, into thick, grey air, blocking any view of the mountains only a few miles away. Smog.

I was fed up and angry.

Like, yelling-at-people-in-the-parking-lot-for-idling-their-cars angry (sorry again…), and I was going to rant about bad air quality to anyone who would listen to me. Specifically, about how it seems so many Utahan’s don’t care enough about how their behaviors contribute to the bad air, whether it’s commuting in high emissions vehicles, not car-pooling, or unnecessary idling. I was, to the full definition of the word, miserable. Like, printing-signs-to-put-on-people’s-cars-when-I-saw-them-idling miserable. My choice of ‘action’ was unkind and ineffective (Because who responds well to someone knocking on your window and insisting you change your behavior? Nobody. Nobody likes that.), and I was dejected.

But this day,

as I looked out the window and repeated the frustrations I had been focused on for years, I was reminded by the most recent victim of my frustration that I was standing in the conference room of a company who is ready and willing to throw its weight behind a good cause, and I had a good cause. Not only that, but I was not, in fact, the only person in Utah with the same frustration, and that other groups were busy putting their energy into making a difference instead of spending it on anger and helplessness. To top it off, I was standing three stories above hundreds of outdoors lovers who were as eager as I was to see air quality improvement in the valley.

The conversation shifted from a miserable monologue to energetic deliberation. Inspired by the efforts The Front and its community had already taken, like raising money for Utah Clean Energy through The Impact Coalition, investing in 12 electric car charging stations to encourage our members to take decisive and effective action, and installing solar panels on the OG and new Millcreek gym, we wanted to know: Who else could we partner with to help make even more of a difference?

It wasn’t long before we found the answer: Jared Campbell. (Read more about Jared in our blog post from last year.)

Jared Campbell, a local endurance athlete and long-time climber (ahem, legend), had already been advocating for clean air solutions for more than a decade with his annual event Running up for Air. Simple in its structure and mighty in its effectiveness, Running Up For Air (RUFA) had not only been raising awareness of the effects of bad air quality, but had also raised thousands of dollars to date for an amazing organization dedicated to the cause – Breathe Utah.

Finally,

after years of feeling miserable and defeated (have I mentioned that I was miserable?), I felt hope knowing that the outdoors community was already rallying to make a change! We immediately contacted Jared for a meeting, and with his enthusiastic support and impeccable organization, Climbing Up For Air (CUFA), the second installment of the Up For Air Series, materialized. With the leadership of Jared, the passion and heart of Breathe Utah, and the community and force of The Front Climbing Club, CUFA’s first year was able to contribute another several thousand dollars toward better air. This year, both RUFA and CUFA will be expanding to Ogden, and we have a lofty goal of raising over $20,000 for clean air solutions.

But, what real change can we actually make?
What does raising funds for this organization even mean? Are there any real solutions to bad air quality?

I was born and raised in Utah, and I wasn’t aware of the effects of bad air until after I graduated college. Sure, maybe I was more ignorant than your average Utah gal. But I have also realized that many people actually, quite innocently, do not understand to what degree their own behaviors negatively affect air quality. It isn’t necessarily that they don’t care, it is that they do not know. I idled my car for YEARS to warm it up in the winter months, without even thinking about it! I also rode my bike to school every day, all winter long, for four years. I thought it was just foggy outside, and now I have asthma. Coincidence? I think not.

Education can make as much of an impact as legislation, and Breathe Utah strives to accomplish both.

With community programs, school programs, and active lobbying, Breathe Utah is fighting daily for our air quality and health. They forgo that anger and frustration that plagued my own life for so many years, and instead utilize persistence, facts, data, humor, lawyers, and strong community partnerships to combat poor air quality, change human behavior, and advocate for effective policies. Jared Campbell and Breathe Utah literally changed my life, and they are changing yours every day behind the scenes!

If you are going to live in the great state of Utah, you must acknowledge your personal responsibility to lower your emissions and contribute toward better air. Whether you start with a small effort like reducing idling, carpooling to The Front, or walking to your destination when possible, or a grander effort like investing in solar, switching to an electric vehicle, or joining us as and great organizations like Breathe Utah as ambassadors for air quality in Utah, your action matters.

If you can’t join us for this year’s RUFA or CUFA events coming up on February 9th and 10th, please consider a tax-deductible donation to Breathe Utah, visit their website and learn more about ways to support Utah’s conversion to cleaner living, and consider changes you can make to your own behaviors that will improve the air we breathe. Join me and our community in turning our disgust of the smog into effective action. Your lungs will thank you!

Learn more and sign up for CUFA in SLC or in Ogden.

Oh, and remember, The Front is an idle free business :).

BY JACKIE RUSSELL
EXECUTIVE STAFF AT THE FRONT CLIMBING CLUB