The Yale Climbing Club — with the help of the Yale College Council — is calling for the construction of a new climbing wall on campus to replace the one lost in the ongoing Silliman College renovations.
YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said 23 of 24 YCC representatives voted in favor of a resolution to support the request after a debate on Sunday night. Climbing Club members are currently collecting signatures to petition the University to open a new climbing wall for the entire Yale community.
Climbing Club president Chris Baker ’09 said the group has been working since last year to rouse student and administrative support for the project. A brief survey posted on the club’s Web site found that 542 out of the 555 respondents would use a new climbing wall.
“The backing of the YCC is a step in the right direction,” Baker said. “I think it shows the level of interest amongst students and says to the University that this is something that Yale students want.”
He said the club has already collected several hundred signatures for its petition to the administration.
Yale climbers previously used a wall located in the basement of Silliman, but that facility is being removed during the renovation of the college. The decade-old wall was closed temporarily in the spring of 2005 due to safety concerns, Silliman Master Judith Krauss said. The Yale Risk Management Department approached Krauss about closing the wall after it was featured in a 2004 Yale Bulletin article, she said.
Although the wall was open throughout the last academic year, Krauss said, the facility was not used much by Silliman students, and most agreed that the space could be used for “something better.” She said she thinks Silliman was not an appropriate place for a climbing wall.
“The wall was a facility that belonged in Payne Whitney Gymnasium or some central place where people could use it,” Krauss said.
The Climbing Club has met with Payne Whitney administrators and has requested a meeting with Provost Andrew Hamilton to discuss the possibility of a new wall. Baker said the University has been open to hearing the club’s request.
Long-time club member Charlie Liu ’06 FES ’07 said Payne Whitney would make a better home for a new wall than a residential college, where access for graduate students and students from other colleges is more limited.
“We would ideally want to locate and run a sizeable gym through Payne Whitney that could really cater to the Yale community at large,” Liu said.
Marks said one reason to move the wall would be to create a safer environment for climbers. Relocation to Payne Whitney would ensure that a full-time staff could monitor the wall at all times.
The Yale Climbing Club is composed of both graduate and undergraduate students. Since they lost their home in Silliman, club members have traveled to a number of climbing spots, including Wallingford Prime Climb, an indoor gym that charges a $60 membership fee per person. Despite overwhelming interest in these climbing trips, the group still wants a central place where members can gather to watch slide shows and listen to guest speakers, Baker said.
“We believe that the former facility served as an important space for physical exercise, as well as social gathering, and that the students and faculty of the University will benefit from the construction of a new rock climbing gym,” Baker said.
Many of Yale’s peer institutions, as well as many high schools, have climbing walls. Harvard’s Mountaineering Club has three separate walls at its disposal, and Cornell boasts a 4,800-square-foot wall.