Athlete-Students

Rock climbing: the best three-syllable sport on campus?

Nick Porisch

More stories from Nick Porisch

EC Eats
November 7, 2022
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Members of Eau Climbers, UW-Eau Claire’s climbing club, at practice.

For most athlete-students, one question dominates their thinking — what is the best three-syllable sport on campus?

The basketball courts on upper campus are a popular hangout for students with an affinity for an old-fashioned game of hoop shoot and the confidence to play in view of 3,000 other people.

Unfortunately, most of us can’t hang with the hotshot ballers that dominate those courts.

So, is the answer racquetball?

The McPhee Physical Education Center boasts several racquetball courts, and checks out the titular racquets to students during their open recreation hours.

However, no one knows how to play racquetball. There’s no need for attribution on this statement. It’s simply a known fact.

Plus, open recreation rules at McPhee require all racquetball participants to don protective eyewear while playing. Enough said.

The true, irrefutable best three-syllable sport on campus is, of course, rock climbing.

Am I biased because I just returned from spending 72-hours in the woods earning my TRCI-A (Top Rope Climbing Instructor – Assistant grade) certification? Maybe.

Is this article just an excuse for me to flex my TRCI-A (Top Rope Climbing Instructor – Assistant grade, in case you forgot) certification? Definitely.

That being said, rock climbing is an incredibly accessible and enjoyable way for students on campus to exercise and socialize.

UW-Eau Claire has two main rock climbing facilities — the bouldering wall in Hilltop Center, and the top rope wall in McPhee, as well as guided climbing trips through the Environmental Adventure Center.

The bouldering wall is generally the best access point on campus for new climbers. Students get free access and shoe rental, which means new climbers don’t need any prior equipment or monetary investment to check it out.

Bouldering is a style of climbing that involves shorter routes (intended paths up the wall) and padded floors so that instead of being tied into a harness, when you finish a route or fall you simply land on the thick pads about five to seven feet beneath you.

The bouldering community on campus is extremely supportive and welcoming. Climbing is a remarkably uncompetitive sport — all skill levels are welcome and someone who climbs easier routes is never looked down on compared to someone who climbs harder ones.

The top rope wall features longer routes, and climbers are supported by ropes and harnesses rather than falling onto pads. Passes to the top rope wall are five dollars a day or 30 dollars for the semester.

The Environmental Adventure Center also leads outdoor climbing trips a few times a semester. These are usually either day or weekend trips, and involve traveling to climbing areas around the region, including Devil’s Lake State Park and the North Shore of Minnesota.

All climbing skill levels are welcome on those trips, and more info can be found on the UW-Eau Claire Recreation page or on the Environmental Adventure Center’s Instagram page (@uwec_eac).

Students should feel encouraged to try rock climbing as an alternative to other three-syllable sports on campus. They’re likely to find a welcoming community and a fun, engaging way to stay active without even having to leave campus.

Volleyball is pretty cool, too, I guess.

Porisch can be found at [email protected]