Getting a grip: Climbers take on rock wall challenge

By Emily Cornett

Roughly 50 people gathered at the Johnson Center Tuesday to compete on fake rocks.

The fifth annual rock climbing challenge tested climbers on 30 color coated paths, up 28 feet of jutting edges and sharp corners and over four hours.

“We accept the five highest scores,” said Dan Marshall, a graduate assistant in charge of organizing the event. “It becomes an endurance game.”

Each path had a value assigned to it. A climber could try as many times as he or she liked, but could only try twice in a row. If a climber used a different colored rock, he or she would have to try again from the bottom.

“It’s not about the competition, it’s about meeting new climbers,” psychology senior Patty Schmittfull, who placed first in intermediate women’s division, said.

Throughout the night, all six ropes were used while the waiting climbers cheered on those on the wall with shouts of “use the wall” and “look right in front of your face.”

The audience erupted into cheers when a difficult path was completed.

When the winners were announced, the climbers had to be shushed.

The climbing wall at the Johnson Center is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Climbers have to pass a written exam and practical lesson in order to use the wall.

Outdoor Pursuits, a program that the Johnson Center promotes, is taking a group of climbers to Red River Gorge.

The next trip is scheduled for March 6, and costs $20.

“I think it’s a really good sport that teaches you to set a goal and attain it,” medical student Taylor Duncan said.