The recent closure of CT Rock Gym has left Yale’s club climbing team and other climbers in the New Haven area without a convenient place to practice.
CT Rock Gym, about a one-mile walk from central campus, announced Monday that it has “closed indefinitely” amid rumors of financial troubles. Yale climbers have continued their training this week at a climbing gym further from campus, but uncertainty over CT Rock Gym’s future has left the team searching for a long-term solution.
“I have over 50 people on my panlist who want to go climbing and are enthusiastic,” Andrew Calder ’13, co-captain of the Yale climbing team, said. “I have to try to find some way to let them have fun climbing.”
Dave Onze, owner of CT Rock Gym, posted his contact information on Facebook and Twitter and encouraged patrons to call him about their membership status, but he did not return several calls from the News this week. As of Wednesday evening, a Facebook group called “CT Rock Climbers UNITE!!!” had collected 132 members, mostly New Haven residents who have posted comments expressing frustration about the closure and discussing possible ways that the gym could reopen.
With the absence of the CT Rock Gym, Calder said Yale’s climbing team plans to travel together on Thursday to Carabiner’s, a climbing gym in Fairfield, Conn., for the first time since the closure. Though Calder said he has reached an agreement with the Fairfield facility that allows the team to climb at a discounted price, the expense of the 30-minute trip makes this option less than ideal.
Charlie Kelly ’14, a member of the climbing team who took fourth place at the Collegiate Climbing Series National Championships in April, said the challenge of finding transportation to the facility in Fairfield might discourage new climbers from continuing to train.
“There is an incredibly dedicated community of climbers on campus,” Kelly said. “To not have a gym makes us a little obsolete.”
While the team will have to arrange their own transit, often by train, the Club Sports Office has stepped in to help the team defray the cost of traveling to Fairfield. Dan Migdalski, director of the Yale Club Sports Office, said he is providing an additional $500 this semester to make sure the club can continue practicing.
“We would like all of our club sports to continue to function including, of course, climbing,” he said in a Wednesday email. “We felt that this additional financial burden may have been one that was too great for the students to overcome on short notice.”
Still, traveling to Fairfield multiple times per week is inconvenient and unsustainable, Calder said, so he intends to draft a petition proposing that Yale build a climbing gym on campus. Migdalski said in an email to the News that the Club Sports Office would support the proposal, but he added that “there are a lot of considerations that must be taken into account in order for this to happen, including funding, space, training and supervision.”
The basement of Silliman used to have a climbing wall, but it was closed at the start of the college’s renovation in June 2006. Silliman Master Judith Krauss said in an email to the News that because of “management concerns” over staffing the facility and ensuring student safety, maintaining the climbing wall was “infeasible.” She added that a climbing wall is more appropriate for a facility where there is already staffing and security.
The climbing team was founded in 2008 and became an official club sport in 2010.