Rec center offers free climbing clinic to freshmen

Erica Puch

Jason Solley, junior flight technician major, climbs the rock wall at the Student Wellness and Recreation Center on Thursday. Solley said he has been climbing for three years. AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Belay on! Climb on!

These are the first phrases freshmen may learn at the Student Wellness and Recreation Center’s introductory rock climbing clinic.

From now until the end of February, freshmen can participate in the climbing clinic for free. All students are welcome to participate. The clinics are held every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m.

Introductory clinics are usually $15 and teach beginners the basics of rock climbing. Climbers learn the standard techniques for knot tying and how to wear the essential climbing equipment. They also learn proper safety procedures.

“We teach them safe belaying techniques,” said Marshall Lochridge, the rec center’s adventure education coordinator. “That way, if the climber would fall, they would be safe.”

The clinics usually host a small group of students. Typically, there are four to five students participating in each clinic.

“You get a lot of practice. That’s what it is all about,” Lochridge said of the clinic.

According to the rec center’s Web site, the rock is 40-feet high and has 12 different climbing stations. The rock has different surfaces that challenge climbers in every skill level. Crevices, caves and deep grips are spread out across the rock wall. It is constructed to mimic reality, explained Lochridge. Climbers may be able apply the skills they learn in the clinic outside of the rec center.

“If you want to push your skills, you can try new routes,” Lochridge said.

The rock wall is marked with different colors of tape identifying specific routes. This allows climbers to choose the level of difficulty at which they would like to climb. Some routes have particular holds that are lower to the ground.

For these specific routes, climbers do not have to wear a harness. This type of climbing is called bouldering. Bouldering has become popular among Kent State students, Lochridge said.

Climbers of all kinds can expect to get a work-out. Skills like flexibility, balance and core strength are needed to climb.

“Climbing is not like lifting weights,” Lochridge said. “It’s real dynamic. The best climbers aren’t big or muscular, they are just people with good core strength.”

After completing the introductory clinic, students must take a safety and skills test before they can climb alone. Students are tested over information they learn at the introductory clinic. If students pass the test, they may pay $15 for a four-month membership to the rock wall. This allows them to climb any time during operating hours.

The wall is open for climbing from 4 to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Cacki Barnard, sophomore international relations major, said she enjoys climbing the rock wall not only for the fitness benefits, but also to spend time with her friends.

“It is more fun if you climb with friends. You can support each other,” she said.

Barnard said she was never nervous about the height of the rock wall, but did admit that her friends were hesitant at first.

For the more experienced climber, the center offers other clinics that teach edging and different grip positions. Some clinics give students the chance to rappel down the wall.

If interested in the introductory climbing clinic at the rec center, call (330) 672-7625 to register.

Contact Student Recreation and Wellness Center reporter Erika Puch at [email protected].