Apr 162002

Nothing beats the feel of rough, solid rock beneath hands and feet, the adrenaline rush of clinging to the side of a mountain and the breeze of a spring afternoon causing the ropes to sway. At least, those are the sentiments of the many avid rock climbers at CSU.

“It’s just a great sense of freedom, being out there on the rock,” said freshman journalism major Paul Ronto. “It beats sitting around inside.”

Adam Levy, a freshman majoring in sports medicine, adds that rock climbing is “a great workout and tons of fun.”

Ronto said he has been climbing for years, since he first went repelling at a friend’s birthday party.

Rock climbing, both indoor and outdoor, has become increasingly popular in recent years. Many gyms and recreation centers throughout Colorado offer indoor climbing walls, including Inner Strength Rock Gym and The Gym, both in Fort Collins.

For beginning rock climbers, there are some simple tips to make the experience easier and less painful.

When moving up, climbers should stay close to the wall. This way the muscles don’t have to work as hard to hold the climbers up. Climbers should rest often, straightening their arms, and leaning back slightly to stretch out muscles and let them rest.

Rely on legs to push up the rock – pulling with the upper body causes undue strain and fatigue. Climbers should also make sure that they don’t lean too far back when climbing or resting – this requires more strength to pull themselves back against the face.

It is also recommended that beginning climbers start with easy routes and perfect their technique before attempting more advanced climbs.

“Don’t be stupid,” Ronto said. “Learn how to climb at a gym first before you go out onto real rock where you can get hurt.”

Levy also suggests that climbers invest in climbing shoes to protect feet and make climbing easier.

Additional climbing equipment includes harnesses, the most basic of which is the sit harness that has a waist loop and leg loops. Fit is crucial both for comfort and for safety in case of a fall.

Carabiners are important for keeping climbers connected – rope to protection, climber to anchor, etc.

Dynamic rope is designed for recreational climbing, due to built-in elasticity that reduces the impact of a fall. Helmets are also strongly encouraged.

There are many popular climbing areas in and around Horsetooth Reservoir. There are also lifestyle classes for beginning and intermediate climbers offered through the student recreation center. n

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