Baylor professor conquers rock climbing world record

Mr. Pruss scaled the wall for a total of 928 meters to break the world record. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pruss.

By Dylan Fink | Staff Writer

On Saturday Dec. 6, while the Baylor community prepared for final exams, Baylor professor Dr. Alexander Pruss was out ascending world records previously held by a Texas A&M University alumni.

Aside from being a member of Baylor’s philosophy department and the co-director of graduate studies in philosophy, Pruss said via email he has a passion for rock climbing. This knack has led him to beat the world record for the greatest vertical distance climbed on a climbing wall in one hour.

Pruss said he relates rock climbing to his profession by seeking to find the philosophy of sport.

“I think a believer in God can have an attitude to physical excellence that strikes the right balance between arrogance on the one hand and dismissing it as unimportant on the other,” Pruss said.

The record Pruss sought to beat was previously held by Texas A&M Commerce alum Andrew Dahir who set the record back in 2018 climbing 928 meters in under 52 minutes.

Pruss documented the event in his blog — Alexander Pruss’s Blog — in which he said he trained “not very heavily” for this record for three months. He wrote that much of his training consisted of climbing with an auto-belay, as opposed to having another person belay him so that he could practice on his own time.

The autobelay did cut a bit of distance off each climb he made in his training because it inhibits the climber from reaching the top of the wall, Pruss wrote in his blog. After getting comfortable with the auto-belay, the machinery malfunctioned with his shot for the record rapidly approaching. He was then forced to take a break in training due to this setback.

Pruss then returned to the wall three days before his official attempt to test his climb with a manual belay. The forced break Pruss was presented with did not stop his progress. On that Saturday, Pruss demolished the previous world record as he climbed 1013.7 meters in roughly 59 seconds.

Toronto, Canada freshman Sam Byassee said having Baylor faculty break records outside of academia is inspiring.

“I’ve always been told that Baylor’s fundamental mission was to inspire and produce the human being living fully, not just the celebrated graduate,” Byassee said. “Hearing of Dr. Pruss setting out and accomplishing something extraordinary outside of academia is the most awe-inspiring embodiment of this mission I’ve witnessed so far.”

In his rock-climbing journey, Pruss said he hopes to further achieve “to learn from and be inspired by the other climbers — especially my son Dominic — and climb harder routes.”

Pruss also said if he beats his next goal, he could potentially beat the record for the fastest indoor one-mile climb.