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ETSU Climbing Club petitions for new bouldering facility

By Natalie InCorvaia
On February 5, 2012

  • Jon Kulikowski scales the climbing wall in the CPA. The wall is open 7-10 p.m Monday-Thursday and 4-7 p.m. Friday and Sunday. Angela Freese

The East Tennessee State University Climbing Club is currently making efforts to increase awareness of rock climbing, while also minimizing the misconception that rock climbing is only for a select few.

"If you can climb a ladder, then you can climb a rock wall,"  says Michael Schneider, the Climbing Club's president.

This is his platform, and the basis of his reasoning for widening and educating the climbing community and garnering attention for the potential creation of a new climbing facility at the Basler Center for Physical Activity here on ETSU's campus.

The CPA is already home to two rock climbing facilities. One is an outdoor monolith that has multiple walls,  climbing routes and is part of the Basler Challenge Course. The other is an indoor wall that is consistently used by a steady stream of both experienced and inexperienced climbers.

A new bouldering facility is the addition under consideration, though its fruition can only take place if enough student interest is generated and if enough funds are acquired.

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that allows the climber to go no more than nine to  12 feet off the ground. It focuses on technique and strength, while climbing on the traverse walls, whose heights are close to 40 feet, presents more of an endurance test for the climber.

Bouldering does not require a harness, certified supervision or assistance, whereas climbing on the walls does.

Though there is the possibility of the new facility being built inside the CPA (and therefore accessible all year round), the more feasible and likely place to build the covered facility is in the enclosed courtyard outside the CPA.

No matter the eventual location, the construction can only happen, however, if enough students affirm their interest in this endeavor.

A mass poll was recently sent to every student through goldmail, and survey booths will be set up in the D.P. Culp Center and in the CPA during the month of February to determine if an acceptable proportion of student enthusiasm is present.

As incentive for taking the poll, a random winner will receive a $25 gift card or an outdoor recreation gift set which includes camping and climbing gear.

If there is enough general desire for a bouldering facility to be erected, the CPA, a supporter of this project, will have to look to the university offices for approval, and begin petitioning the BUC Fund, the SAAC fund and the Alumni Association for grants. It will  also search for corporate sponsorship and research professional bouldering and construction companies.

Student fees and/or tuition will not be raised if construction takes place. The estimate for the cost of building a bouldering facility is anywhere from $75,000 to $250,000. Everything depends on the design and amount of funds gained from organizations and Climbing Club fundraising.

The Climbing Club, with or without the new facility, is continuing to spread the word about rock climbing being for all ages, athletic builds and levels of experience.

Schneider wants the club to focus less on competitions and more on improving the climbing community by welcoming all and any who are interested in this sport.

For the first time, the indoor climbing wall at the CPA will be open each Saturday of February from 1-4 p.m. Newcomers can come to socialize, have fun and learn the lingo and basics of rock climbing, while veteran rock climbers can meet like-minded individuals to go on trips and to travel to new bouldering and rock sites with.

The Climbing Club encourage students to try rock climbing and to participate in a poll being conducted to ascertain that there is a need for a bouldering facility on campus. 

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