In the past two years the rock wall inside the Activities and Recreation Center has seen a dramatic increase in use, employees said.
The ARC climbing wall opened in 2005 and is run by Campus Recreation, working closely with Outdoor Adventures. Only recently however, has the wall been so popular.
Ian Walters, student rock wall manager said that usage of the wall has definitely doubled, if not tripled in the past two years.
“It’s definitely not an accident,” he said. “It’s a direct result of the people we hire creating a more friendly and inviting attitude.”
Walters said the rock climbing community is unique in that everyone is always helpful and no one is judgmental.
“We’re hiring people who care about the community we are trying to create,” he said. “They love teaching people how to climb and building relationships around the rock wall. The level of care our staff has right now is the highest it’s ever been.”
While meeting friends at the rock wall may be one reason to go, it’s also a work out. In a 2007 study done by the University of Washington on college-aged adults, tests showed that indoor rock climbing meets the American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines for energy expenditure, heart rate reserve and oxygen consumption reserve. The report concluded that physicians, strength and conditioning trainers and physical education teachers should suggest rock climbing as an alternative form of exercise for those who find traditional methods unexciting.
“It works muscles you didn’t know you had,” Walters said.
Not only is the ARC rock wall inviting, Walters said, but it’s addicting.
“Climbing is natural. It’s something that doesn’t require weights or a ball or a weird stick,” he said. “In a way it’s sort of like running, you can do it anywhere. It’s a natural expression of what you want to do, really without any rules.”
Jessie Adams, a junior international relations major, tried out the ARC rock wall for the first time this year.
“It was a blast,” she said. “I went with a friend who had gone before, but even after going just once, I definitely felt comfortable going by myself the next time.”
Walters explained that Jessie’s experience isn’t uncommon.
“A lot of people come once and get hooked,” he said. “We’ve always had our try before you buy deal, but now with our new staff, we’re really seeing people come back after their first time testing out the course. The staff is our best publicity.”
For those interested, a beginning rock climbing course will be offered this winter on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 8:50 a.m.
“It’s the most arbitrary thing ever and that’s really cool,” Walters said. “It can be as easy or as difficult as you want to be. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it that isn’t in other sports. That newness is something that can really draw you.”
Climbing the wall for one day costs $5, with a quarterly pass at $30 and an annual pass at $75. Zero experience is needed, Walters said.
The rock wall in the ARC is open Monday through Friday from 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
ANDY VERDEROSA can be reached at email@example.com.