Climbing Club provides support and community for all involved

Kristen Eskridge, WCU Junior, climbing during competition. Photo by Kristie Watkins

The Climbing Club at Western Carolina University is a place for teamwork, support and the opportunity for training and competition within an individual sport.

For many students, the Climbing Club is a way to learn more about a sport they have an interest in but might not know how to do it. Kristen Eskridge, a Western Carolina junior and Climbing Club secretary, said this was the case for her when she joined in 2015.

“I knew nothing about climbing. I wanted people to teach me and I thought that rock climbing was cool and I wanted to get better at it,” said Eskridge.

At first, she was not very good and did not enjoy it as much as she thought she would. It was not until she was introduced to bouldering that her passion for climbing began.

Bouldering is a type of climbing that involves taking certain routes to get from one place to another relatively close to the ground with the help of a spotter. This type of climbing differs from the top ropes, in which you are harnessed in and try to make it to the top of the wall.

“[Bouldering] for me was more interesting. It was more about technique. It was like figuring out a puzzle. It was so rewarding when you get it. Watching other people who were really good made me want to be better,” Eskridge said.

According to Eskridge, the climbing club is a support system for everyone involved. Even though climbing is an individual sport, there is a lot of teamwork within the team. People encourage each other to push themselves to try harder routes and they cheer each other on when they know someone is working hard to complete a problem. [A problem is what climbers call the series of holds on the wall that make up a route.]

Climbers line up, preparing for their runs. Photo by Kristie Watkins

The Climbing Club has weekly practices. They get together and do ab workouts, hang board training, workouts on the climbing wall that help with strength and endurance. They sometimes play games such as limbo or tag on the wall as well.

The sport of climbing has gained more popularity on Western Carolina’s campus within the past year. Last year the team had around 15 members, this year there are around 50.

Taylor Stack, junior and president of the Climbing Club, says the club is an excellent way to learn about climbing even if you have zero experience.

“Climbing is the kind of thing you can’t really get into unless you know someone who is a climber. I want to be that person to someone else. Show them the gear, the moves and the places to go. I have this skill set and I know how to do it safely and so it’s almost my responsibility to pass it on,” Stack said.

Stack and Eskridge agree that climbing is a sport that creates community.

“If you go out to a place to boulder or even a climbing gym. It’s very relaxed and supportive. It’s a community where everyone shares the same passion for rock climbing,” Eskridge said.

Stack said the climbing club is an outlet for her. Going to practices allows her to forget about school and focus on strengthening her skills, helping others see theirs and spending time with friends.

See what other members of the club said why they like being in the club.

For more information visit the Facebook page, Climbing Club at WCU.

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