Rams out in the wilderness

Sep 012010
Authors: Allison Sylte

Rodney Ley has climbed mountains all over the world, from 14ers in Colorado to massive peaks in Nepal and South America.

 “Doing things outdoors is all about getting away from the connectivity of day-to-day life,” Ley said. “It’s about removing yourself from a routine and doing something completely different.”

Ley, a 59-year-old alumnus, has always loved the mountains. For him, mountaineering partially appealed to his penchant for non-conformity and taking a walk on the wild side. He took pride in that while his classmates were attending football games, he was standing on the summits of 14ers.

“Mountaineering is amazing because it always delvers what it promises. Some football players never win the Super Bowl, but when you’re outdoors, you always win,” Ley said.
This feeling inspired Ley to help birth the Outdoor Adventure Program at CSU, or OAP.
“I had always wanted to teach, and I have always wanted to make a difference,” Ley said.

OAP offers trips like an alpine mountaineering course to backpacking trips, and even a course on backcountry cooking, yearlong, all taught by experienced guides.

The Apoloca glacier in Mexico, Ouray, Nepal and a trip to Aconcagua –– the highest peak in the Americas at 22,841 feet and one of the famous Seven Summits –– are just some of the adventures the program has sponsored.

“The OAP is a great resource because we take care of all of the logistics that come with going on trips in the outdoors — transportation, permits, gear, food — and we allow students to simply focus on the most important part; the experience,” Ley said.

Ley’s best mountaineering experience was on Mount Cayame, an 18,000-foot peak in Ecuador.

“It was amazing because on one side, I could see the Amazon basin, and on the other, the Pacific Ocean. It was absolutely mind-boggling,” Ley said.

Ley has even climbed peaks in Nepal. He likens climbing these mountains to being a “highly spiritual experience,” because there’s something about the culture that transitions climbing from being simply a hobby into something life altering.

Ley hopes to instill this attitude about mountaineering with the students who come through his program.

“My job is like a magnifier, where the paperwork that I do in my office is a giant lever, and I can take this lever and move people’s lives with it,” Ley said. “It’s an amazingly gratifying experience.”

This semester, the OAP is offering introductory courses in rock climbing, a Labor Day backpacking trip, and a trail-building service project on Mt. Bierstadt (Colorado’s 38th highest 14er). Most of the trips cost less than $100.

In addition, the OAP offers free avalanche awareness clinics and a presentation on where to hike in Colorado, as well as the “Reel Rock Film Tour,” featuring the latest, insane feats in rock climbing.

 Its newest addition is an equipment rental service, which offers cheap outdoor gear to students looking to go on their own outdoor expeditions.

“The rental program is just getting under the radar. It has a great deal of interest, but not as many people quite know about it yet,” said Ley.

The OAP’s rental office is located in the Student Recreation Center, just beyond the climbing area. Thus far, the program has proven to be a great resource for adventure-seeking students, said Becca Malphrus, sophomore health and exercise sciences major.
To rent, people need a valid CSU ID and a local address and phone number.

Reservations must be paid in full at the time of the order, and the program offers 20 percent discounts when renting five or more of the same item.

Staff writer Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:26 pm

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