Rock climbing club harnessing up for competition season

Jonah Tuska reaches for a handhold as he scales the SLC rock wall during the Rock Climbing Club practice on Monday night at the McLane Student Life Center in Waco. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Branson Hardcastle | Sports Reporter

The Baylor rock climbing team has begun practicing in the Student Life Center and is looking to start their season off strong. The rock climbing club is a competitive team that travels to Texas tournaments, regional tournaments and a national tournament to compete against other schools.

The rock climbing club competes in the Collegiate Climbing Series, which is a branch of USA Climbing, a national body that governs rock climbing for sport. The club competes in two competitions: bouldering and sport climb.

Bouldering is essentially a climb without a rope and the routes are usually about 13 feet high. Sport climb uses a rope and is on a much taller wall, such as the ROCK located in the Student Life Center, which stands at 53 feet.

Fairfield, Conn., junior, Pierce Halsted, secretary and assistant strength coach for the club, said each wall has its own challenges and that there are different levels of difficulties to face as your skill level improves.

For bouldering, the scale ranges from V0-V16 with V0 being the easiest route up the bouldering wall and V16 being the hardest. The sport climbing scale starts at 5.1 and ends at 5.15c. The ROCK’s highest difficulty is a 5.13 which is challenging, even for skilled climbers.

Scores at competitions are graded based on the difficulty of the climb and how many times you fall or use a different path during the climb. During the competition, each competitor climbs five separate routes. At the end of the competition, the judges will add up all five scores to decide the winner. Team scores are determined at the end of the competition as well by adding each member’s score together. Competitors have the chance to place both as a team and in an individual event.

Most of the competitions for the rock climbing club are in the spring semester. The majority of their time in the fall is spent preparing for the competitions. Their practice schedule consists of two practices a week. Mondays are focused on climbing, where they get in pairs and climb both the bouldering wall and the ROCK. Wednesdays are primarily workout days. Halsted and outdoor adventure coordinator Daniel Ezell design rock climbing specific workouts for the club for Wednesday practices.

Greenville, S.C. senior and co-captain Faith Russell said the rock climbing club is much more than a club. It is a community.

“I really love rock climbing and it’s great to get to make friends with people who also share that interest. It is honestly a really laid-back club, but it is just a really great community,” Russell said. “By the end of the year you really get to know people and you work through things together.”

Hobbs, NM. sophomore Lathan Romero said he believes the community of the club is a direct reflection of the club’s leadership.

“It is a great group of people to be around. They push you to do your best, but they understand that rock climbing is a hobby for most of us,” Romero said. “Everyone is so accepting and that starts with the captains and seeps down to the rest of us.”

The rock climbing club will be competing in their first competition Oct. 21 from 5-8 p.m. at the BTHO Gravity Bouldering Competition at Texas A&M.

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