When the Wilson Climbing Centre asked Education student Colton Bown if he wanted to start a climbing club, he took it as a chance to build the climbing community on campus.
The University of Alberta Climbing Club is three months into its first year on campus. The club holds drop-in sessions on the second Thursday of every month, where climbers from various skill levels can practice and learn from each other in a non-competitive environment.
The club also holds social events like movie nights, where climbers can meet others who are enthusiastic about the sport. While only five people showed up to their last movie night in October, when they showed the documentary Valley Uprising, Bown said it was still a great time.
“As a climber, you watch climbing films and all of a sudden your hands start to sweat,” he said. “You’re so excited and you’re nervous for (the climber) but your body is physiologically prepping you to try to do something like that.”
For their next movie night, the club will attend Reel Rock 12, the latest in a series of films about rock climbers and their global travels, at the Metro Cinema on November 10.
Members of the club can also participate for free in the monthly wall brawl competition, which the climbing centre organizes just before they put in new routes in the bouldering lounge, where students can compete with others in their skill category and win prizes.
According to fifth-year computing science student Gregory Gould, who is in charge of the club’s marketing, the absence of a climbing club in past years meant it was difficult for climbers on campus to find each other.
“A lot of the criticisms of the climbing wall here at the U of A is that it’s very clinical and the community isn’t quite there,” he said. “There’s no weekly climbing group that you can go and boulder with a bunch of friends. It requires a lot of extroversion on your behalf to actually get into it.”
For Bown, climbing has been a hobby for the last three years. He was introduced to the sport when he took a course on wall climbing during his kinesiology degree and “was absolutely sucked in” from there. He said making the club accessible for beginners is a way for him to combine both of his degrees, and share his interest for rock climbing.
“People that have never climbed before are my favorite people to climb with, in that they’re never a burden, I love teaching which is why I’m in education, and I love bringing people into the outdoors because of my first degree,” he said.
“If this club even just has one person that gets the same feeling out of climbing and coming into this community, I’ll consider it a success.”
For $15, Students can register for membership on the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation’s activity website.