“Keep Going! You Got It!” Determined eyes, tense muscles, focused breathing, delicate movements, no sign of the fear that used to be there. Then, after putting a hand on the plastic hold, gravity takes hold. The crowd gathers around, pats the climber on the back and congratulates her on the effort.
Central Oregon Community College has partnered with locally-owned indoor rock gym InClimb to offer students just this kind of experience in the form of a unique activity course on climbing.
The once-a-week course offers students a low impact introduction into the booming sport of defying gravity: rock climbing.
The course introduces skills to beginning climbers who might have tried on a portable wall or with friends, and would like to learn in a safe and fun environment, said Aaron Lish of the Health and Human Performance Department at COCC.
Course fees of $34 include gear and access to the gym, and shoe rentals are a steal at $10 per quarter as compared to $5 per session for the public. Almost a third of this quarter’s students have purchased a membership so they can continue progression outside of class, said staff at the gym.
“Beginners often make good progress, depending of course on their motivation, intentions, and how hard they push themselves,” said Lish.
In an area with notable rock and alpine climbing, there are still good reasons to climb inside, especially if someone is new to the sport.
“Climbing on walls that are less than vertical helps build confidence for the beginner, and there is nothing like pulling on plastic to help build strength,” said InClimb Owner Larry Brumwell. “As one gets stronger, that courage grows into confidence. The mental skills and focus develop courage to try harder climbs.”
When the weather and rock dries out, students said they would be more willing to try climbing on real rock after taking the course.
Brumwell said learning to climb can help students in other areas of life, as well. When placed in an environment of stress and problem solving, climbing pushes people’s boundaries and makes them step out of them comfort zone, he said. Seeing the relationship between effort and results crosses over into life skills, like study habits, focus, persistence and how you behave and carry yourself.
“Physical and mental challenges always translate into results,” Brumwell said.
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