PWG offers new climbing class

In the course "Intro. to Rock Climbing," instructor Matt Loter keeps the rope attached to student Guillermo Olivos SOM '10 secured.
In the course "Intro. to Rock Climbing," instructor Matt Loter keeps the rope attached to student Guillermo Olivos SOM '10 secured. Photo by Carol Hsin.

This fall, new heights are finally within reach for students interested in climbing the walls.

Payne Whitney Gymnasium is now offering an “Introduction to Rock Climbing” class to Yale students and faculty at the Connecticut Rock Climbing Gym, located at 91 Shelton Ave. A Yale Shuttle will transport participants from Payne Whitney to the class, which is designed to teach participants the essential skills of the sport.

In the course
In the course "Intro. to Rock Climbing," instructor Matt Loter keeps the rope attached to student Guillermo Olivos SOM '10 secured.
Richard Hernandez SOM '11, a student in the course
Richard Hernandez SOM '11, a student in the course "Intro. to Rock Climbing," scales a wall in the CT Rock Gym where the course is held.

Charlie Kelly ’14, the captain of the Yale Climbing Team — a new organization of 31 members that practices at the CT Rock Gym three times per week — was excited to hear about the course and the accompanying bus service.

He said the class was actually born out of YCT’s quest for transportation to the CT Rock Gym, which will now make their practices much more convenient.

“On average, somewhere between 10 and 15 members of YCT attend practice,” Kelly said. “Hopefully, the class will make people seriously consider rock climbing as a fun physical activity.” Thanks to the advent of long-awaited transportation to and from the gym, he added that he expects the number of students who come to our club’s practices to increase dramatically.

Nicolas Kemper ’11, the co-coordinator and publicist of Yale Outdoors, and former Production & Design editor for the News, said that he was glad to see Yale giving rock climbing some institutional support.

“I think that there’s a climbing renaissance of sorts happening on campus,” Kemper said. “The Yale shuttle that will run to CT Rock Gym signals that Yale is finally willing to lend some help to the activity.”

Duke Diaz, an athletic staff director at the Payne Whitney Gymnasium, said that the program is the first of its kind to be offered through Yale’s physical education department.

“The goal of the class is to offer something new and different in a way that is easily accessible for Yale students,” he said. “So far, only a handful of people have signed up. I just don’t think that many people understand how fun of a workout rock climbing can be.”

The classes are a kind of pilot program to gauge interest in rock climbing around campus, said Nate McKenzie, an instructor at the CT Rock Gym.

McKenzie added that participants will focus on how to move across rock formations in an efficient but safe way, using skills like proper footwork and handwork.

McKenzie is one of the professional climbers and instructors who will practice different techniques with participants that will help them to develop and improve their rock climbing skills.

The program’s instructional components, he said, will also include injury prevention, bouldering — a style undertaken without a rope and limited to very short climbs over a crash pad — and belaying, which refers to techniques used in climbing to exert friction on a rope so that a climber does not fall very far.

“We’re going to assume that the people who signed up for this class have limited or no experience climbing at all, and lay particular stress on safety aspects,” McKenzie said. “By the end of the five weeks, anybody who completes the course successfully will be able to use the equipment without assistance from an instructor.”

The course, which includes rental equipment such as harnesses and safety nets on site, costs $75 — about a 20 percent discount from what the CT Rock Climbing Gym normally charges, McKenzie said.

Reactions to the prospects of the program have been favorable. Three out of five students interviewed expressed interest in the classes, despite that they are not free and take place off-campus.

The bus to the CT Rock Gym departs from Payne Whitney at 6:15 pm, and classes run from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Students can sign up for the program online under the “Campus Recreation” tab on YaleInfo.

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