The dilemma between going to climb and putting off homework or spending the evening in the quiet section of Watzek is a common predicament for many rock climbing enthusiasts at Lewis & Clark. However, if you ask them, it is a fairly easy decision to make. But for the rest of us ground-level students, how do we get to that point of sensational (ir)responsibility?
Benjamin Schulman ’21, a co-president of the LC Climbing Club, began climbing almost a decade ago.
“I was at summer camp and they had an outdoor climbing wall,” Schulman said. After that summer, his mom signed him up for a competitive rock climbing team. From there on out, “It just became a passion.”
Despite Schulman beginning his climbing career early on in his life, anyone can spark a love for the sport regardless of their experience. Peter Bradley ’19 started climbing his first year at LC and has been adamantly engaging with it ever since. He has even taken the bouldering course offered here on four separate occasions.
“I really like climbing because it focuses you to be present in your body and intentional (in) all of the really subtle movements that go into it,” Bradley said. “I do a lot of different sports, but I think it grounds me the most because of the focus it takes. There’s also a problem solving aspect to it that (I) really value, figuring out the beta (which is what you call your way up the route) is a big part of the fun.”
The Circuit is a nearby climbing facility and a shuttle run by College Outdoors transports students there every Monday and Thursday at 7 p.m. Since it is indoors, it is a perfect location to stay active while avoiding Portland’s rainy weather. According to Parker Meer ’20, the other co-president of the LC Climbing Club, the Circuit is a great place to start climbing. On Wednesday nights, they offers discounted day passes for beginners.
“No matter what your ability level is, you’ll find something to do there,” Meer said.
For the two presidents of the Climbing Club, their passion has been a great way for them to meet people and create strong friendships at LC.
“Most of my friends I have now, I met on the shuttle freshman year,” Meer said. “It’s just a good way to talk to people.”
As for Schulman, the combination of exercising and having fun with friends was something he appreciated.
“Last year I went to the Circuit maybe twice a week,” he said. “It was just a really fun activity to go, hang out with friends and get a workout.”
However, as wallets know all too well, climbing is not free.
“It’s a really expensive hobby that I would love to see be cheaper and more accessible to people,” Schulman said..
Still, for these two leaders in the climbing community, it is all worth it, and going to the Circuit is just the beginning of the climb. Travelling to a climbing spot outside in the spring, summer or fall is where the real fun begins. The Climbing Club often makes this possible by providing opportunities to participate in climbing trips over breaks.
“The community and spending time outside,” Meer said. “Those are the two really big things that keep me coming back to climbing time and time again.”
Whether you are a novice or akin to a mountain goat, consider climbing at the Circuit with the Climbing Club. LC also offers both a bouldering P.E. course, creating an opportunity to learn a new skill while simultaneously fulfilling class credits. Being registered in the class also grants you a less expensive membership to the Circuit as well as rental shoes. By partaking in either of these opportunities, you may spur new friendships and uncover a new passion. Climbing walls and cheering on your pals certainly offers a distinct experience compared to traditional exercise.
Written by Michael Mulrennan.