|ISU Rock Climbing Assoc. frequents Upper Limits|
|Written by Todd Marver, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 09:03|
While Illinois State provides state-of-the-art facilities for students, faculty, and staff to utilize, members in registered student organizations expand their horizons and also look beyond the campus boundaries and into the Bloomington–Normal community to get involved.
The ISU Rock Climbing Association frequents the Upper Limits Rock Climbing Gym, located in Bloomington. The group also meets every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Student Fitness Center climbing wall.
“Part of the reason we wanted to start the RSO at ISU is to help get people who first experience climbing at the Student Fitness Center to come and check out Upper Limits and vice versa,” ISU Rock Climbing Association President Mark Donahue said. “We try and make a couple organized trips every semester, but our members regularly climb there on their own as well.”
The Student Fitness Center features a rock climbing wall that is open at least three hours a day Sunday–Thursday. However, Upper Limits is open longer, at least six hours a day, and is a more extensive rock climbing facility with over 10,000 square feet of climbing area.
“The first and most noticeable difference between Upper Limits and the Rec is the sheer scale of the facilities,” ISU Rock Climbing Association member Matt Kowalczyk said. “Upper Limits gym is converted from old grain storage silos with climbing routes reaching about 65 feet. The gym is also much larger. Upper Limits also contains an extensive variety of training equipment that can help to build strength that is specific to climbing.”
Upper Limits also allows for a greater variety in the types of climbing available. While the Student Fitness Center climbing wall features top rope and lead climbing, Upper Limits also has bouldering.
Bouldering is rock climbing without ropes close to the ground on short, mini-routes typically involving difficult or power moves. Upper Limits hosted a Crashpad Jamboree Bouldering Competition on Wednesday.
“Training [for the event] is very individual,” Donahue said. “Some people cross train by running or biking a lot and others do finger exercises on hangboards, but everyone tries to climb as much as possible. Upper Limits does a great job keeping the competition friendly and fun. It’s a great event that attracts climbers from all over the area.”
According to the Rock Climbing eBook, put out by the Wilderness Education Association, Upper Limits is one of nearly 700 indoor climbing gyms in the United States and rock climbing is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports.
“Climbing is a great sport for everyone because it’s both fitness- and technique-intensive,” Donahue said. “If you want a great workout, climbing will definitely provide that, but it is also very mentally stimulating. It often requires you to solve complex sequences of movements.”
ISU Rock Climbing Association members Blake Doane and Kowalczyk are also employees at Upper Limits.
“A staff member’s responsibilities consist of watching the gym to make sure everybody is safe, since climbing is a dangerous sport,” Doane said. “Both the staff and assistant managers also teach a variety of classes that allow climbers to hone their skills.”
As an assistant manager, Doane also takes on additional responsibilities compared to the rest of the staff.
“[Assistant managers] are responsible for the staff and making sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” Doane said.
“We assign daily tasks that the staff needs to get done before they are dismissed from work. We also are responsible for the large groups that come into Upper Limits, in particular Boy Scout groups,” he added. “We make many of the reservations at the gym, deal with many of the finances, and also schedule classes around the members’ busy schedules and the staff’s busy schedules.”