Mission possible: Climb Club resumes practices despite wall closure

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Tree branches bow under the weight of the first snow, and the sun rises and sets early over stinging, frozen air — winter is coming, but members of the climbing club still find themselves behind Mission Hall, as they have for weeks, where they’ve commandeered an empty swing set and a swath of empty grass as their training grounds.

“The swing set behind Mission doesn’t have swings on it right now, so basically we just use that for hanging whatever stuff we need to hang up, or pull ups,” co-captain Nick Hollon ’22 said. “And then there’s a variety of floor or ground exercises that you can also do, so we just use the grass around there too.” 

“We have yoga mats and TRX [Total Resistance Exercises] and these things called hangboards that are portable and you can hang up on the bar,” co-captain Isabel Albores ’23 said.“Everybody’s masked, and we cycle through [the stations], and some people do floor things while others do bar stuff.”.

Like many other athletic organizations on campus, the climbing club this year has found itself struggling to balance the safety of its members with effective practice and the preservation of the social dynamics that characterizes a club sport. 

“I think for me, [the difficulty has] been having to adjust so much for practices to the new space,” said Albores. “Last year, climbing was definitely for me a stress relieving time, and it has been since I started climbing regularly in middle school, so having that being taken away… and [needing] to be more focused on how we can adjust practice — that’s been a little bit hard.”

The continued restriction of the wall has raised frustration within many of the members. “I’m probably not the only one who’s been frustrated by the indoor athletic facilities being opened for varsity athletes to some extent… It feels like if there’s a way to open for varsity, there should be a way to make that available for all students who should have all the same opportunities,” Albores said.

Despite the difficulty of restrictions on practice, many club members have still managed to find enjoyment with the newset up. “It’s definitely been a ton of fun, and I love doing the workouts,” said Sophia Trone ’24. “I’ve gotten a lot better at core strength and using the TRX… I’m excited to go home and do more pull ups and start climbing.”.

The club has even turned the situation to its advantage by expanding their practices beyond indoor climbing and offering outdoor climbing exercises, an experience not many members had before this year. “I haven’t climbed outdoors before.” said Deven Desai ’22. “I’d always done it in the gym, so this year I was able to go and actually climb outside on actual outdoor rocks. 

For Desai, the outdoor climbing experience is really different from the gym. “Outside, because there’s nothing designated, like go here to here to here, you have to figure it out more on your own, and get from point A to point B, which is fun in a different way,” he said. 

As more athletic facilities have opened for varsity athletes across campus, the climbing club hopes for a potential reopening of the wall. “Out of all the activities you can do, climbing is a pretty darn safe thing,” Hollon said.

“Because you can stay six feet apart and you can wear your mask because it’s not like heavy cardio,” Albores explained.