Rec to open bouldering wall by early November

The Recreation and Wellness Center’s 2018 plans to incorporate a bouldering wall into the facility is coming to fruition four years later. ORACLE PHOTO/MICHAEL MARDONES

After years of delay, construction of a 30-foot bouldering center on campus is underway at the Recreation and Wellness Center.

It’s expected to be completed by early November or spring semester at the latest, according to Director of Recreation and Wellness Jay Souza.

The bouldering wall, which will replace one of the racquetball courts parallel to the strength floor, is estimated to cost over $150,000, according to Souza.

In 2018, Souza said he met with Student Government to discuss the construction of the climbing wall. However, as plans progressed, they realized that building a wall of this size would require extreme risk management protective measures, including belayers, which is the person who controls the rope of a person climbing. 

As a result, the costs were higher than anticipated, according to Souza. With the budgeting at the time, SG said it was better to wait for a more opportune term before moving forward.

This resulted in the decision of building a bouldering center instead, as it is a more affordable alternative. 

Bouldering differs from rock climbing in that bouldering does not require anyone to be there to assist. However, when climbing a wall, a rope, protective gear and assistance are needed. 

A bouldering wall is no more than 12-feet high and has padding along the floor while climbing walls average 30 feet. Bouldering walls focus more on practicing techniques and climbing walls are for people who already know how to climb.

“We are gonna be open to anyone that wants to use it. Obviously, we are going to have some rules posted there, like you can’t use certain shoes on the wall because you do not want to damage the surface,” Souza said. “We are going to have a seating area in there as well, so a lot of people can watch. Typically I find bouldering to be a social setting.”

Souza said the money for this project came from when the Rec was temporarily shut down due to COVID-19. As there was no need to pay any student staff, there was leftover money for that fiscal year that SG permitted to be used for this project.

When the idea for a climbing wall was first announced, students seemed to have mixed opinions about it, according to a 2018 Oracle article. Some students felt the money could go toward other issues on campus such as the ongoing parking situation or student organizations. 

Now that it’s being executed, some students were receptive to the decision of building the bouldering wall.

Freshman mechanical engineering major Kevin Duignan said he thinks a bouldering wall would be a good addition to the gym. As someone who frequents at a few different gyms, he said it’s something that will really make the university’s facility stand out. 

“I don’t see too many gyms with rock climbing walls,” he said. “So it’s like a really nice feature to have. Also, it does help with grip strength and back muscles.”

While rock climbing is not for her, senior integrated biology major Elizabeth Voronina said she sees how it could be fun for those who enjoy it.  

“I feel like that could be fun for some people, not particularly for me,” she said. “I don’t find myself coming here to go rock climbing. But some people enjoy it, especially if they’re not into lifting weights and I want to do some kind of exercise.”

Overall, Souza said the opening of the bouldering center for students will expand the opportunities they have to enjoy the Rec. 

“It will open up an opportunity for students that might not have participated in the activities offered before,” he said. “[They] might want to give it a try, and then they can be exposed to other things we have to offer.”