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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Club Close-Up: Climbing club

The Climbing Wall. Photo taken by Trinity Rietmann.

Inside of the Recreational Eagle Center (REC) lies the climbing wall. It is tucked away along the north side of the building, and according to President of Climbing Club and Fourth-year Student Julien Allison, “A lot of people don’t know that the climbing wall even exists.”

Climbing club is trying to change that. “The more people who use the wall, the better the wall will be,” said Allison.

Climbing club meets every other Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the climbing wall, which is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weeknights, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Caleb Bekkam, club treasurer and second-year student, described his experience with the climbing club. “I like climbing club because it is just the best way to meet and interact with other people that like climbing, and I really like climbing,” he said. “It’s a good way to clear my mind, and it’s fun!”

Climbing club strives to create a welcoming environment for everyone since climbing can be an intimidating activity for some individuals.

“We really just want to foster an environment where people feel comfortable to come [to the climbing wall] whenever, and I think we’ve made great improvement of that over the years,” Allison said. “Everybody is welcome and everybody should feel comfortable climbing.”

An average climbing club meeting consists of a brief overview of upcoming events and any other club business before the participants begin climbing. 

“Ideally it’s a mix of a lot of new climbers and some older climbers to lead the way and create a group where everyone can grow together,” said Allison.

More experienced climbers demonstrate routes for others, and everyone collaborates to create a successful climbing experience for all. 

At the climbing wall, routes are labeled with colored tape that designate the beginning and end of the climb. They are also classified on a scale of difficulty which ranges from V0 to V8, with V0 routes being the easiest and V8 routes being the most difficult. 

Second-year Student and climbing wall Staff Member Aidan Kuhn said, “Climbing is unique in that it can be as hard or as easy as you want. There’s a lot of relaxing and hanging out, and then a huge aspect to it is trying really hard and progressing and pushing the limits of what you can do.”

The range of route levels allows people to experiment and grow in their climbing skills. 

“We always try to incorporate as many skill levels as possible. I think there’s definitely a good range of climbs available to everyone,” said Kuhn.

A route of the week is chosen every meeting and posted to the climbing club’s Instagram page (@uwlclimbingclub). This encourages people who were not able to attend the meeting to come try out the route another time during the week.

When the climbing club gets together, they play a lot of climbing games. One game, called Add-On, was described by Allison.

“There’s a game called Add-On, which is basically making your own routes as you go up,” he said. “One person picks a start. Next person goes up, they do that start, and they make another move. It’s a game to finish a route, and if you fall off, you’re eliminated.”

Other than the biweekly meetings at the climbing wall, the climbing club participates in climbing competitions around the state. The next competition is in Eau Claire on Dec. 2, and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse hosts it’s own competition in April.

The climbing club is also in the process of putting together trips to other climbing gyms in the area, whether it’s a climbing location in Winona or Roca Climbing and Fitness in Rochester.

“Right now we mainly climb here… but this year we are really trying to put a focus more on trips and tours,” Allison said.

Climbing club offers the opportunity to climb in other gyms, but climbing here at the REC is a valuable experience as well, especially for beginners.

“Being on campus and having access to the REC and the climbing wall is a good opportunity to at least try it out,” Kuhn said. “The big thing about climbing is just doing it.”

“Come check it out!” said Allison. “Climbing is one of the most rewarding physical activities I’ve picked up. Even if you don’t join the club, I’d recommend just coming and checking out the climbing wall. It’s definitely worth the trip!”

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About the Contributor
Trinity Rietmann
Trinity Rietmann, Photojournalist
  • Year at UWL: Junior
  • PGPs: she/her/hers
  • Hometown: Baraboo
  • Major: Art Education
  • Minor: Photography and Recreation Management
  • Other Campus Involvement: Women's Rugby Team
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Become an art teacher
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Hiking at the Bluffs
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