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Climbing Wall Improvements

Climbing Wall Improvements

Rock Wall Renovation and Reopening 

By Eli Haynal 

The Walla Walla University climbing wall has been around for a long time, and a budgeting decision last spring allowed the wall to undergo renovation over the course of the summer and fall quarter, ensuring that students have an even better rock climbing experience this year.  

The old climbing wall had a limited capacity for the large number of interested students. Photo by Grant Hartman. 

For students who are unaware, the climbing wall is located in the WEC. There is no hard date set for the reopening at this time, but Will Howard, senior mechanical engineering major and climbing wall manager, anticipates that the wall will reopen sometime during winter quarter.1 Similar to other WEC facilities, COVID-19 regulations will require students to sign up for a time slot on the wall.2 

Grant Hartman, senior mechanical engineering major and the organizer of the renovation project, described the history of the wall. A previous chair of the health department constructed the old wall by hand.3 

Thirty years later, the campus once again lacks the climbing facilities necessary to support the student body. According to Hartman, “The climbing community is really growing . . . as a nation and as a world, climbing is beginning to develop and becoming much more popular.”4 In light of increasing student demand for climbing facilities, Hartman advocated for the wall’s renovation over the course of the past five to six years, finally securing funding from ASWWU Senate at the end of last school year.5 

The new wall will provide plenty of space for the student climbing community. Photo by Will Howard. 

After the large project fund was approved, Howard set the renovation project into motion, signing contracts at the end of spring quarter.6 Although COVID-19 brought numerous changes over the summer, Howard says, “I really don’t think COVID-19 had a huge impact on the timeline. It definitely complicated things, but I don’t really think it slowed anything down.”7 

The physical construction of the wall began the Sunday before school started this fall and took a mere two weeks to complete.8 However, the padding for the floor is manufactured and shipped by a separate company, so the wall is finished at this time, but the floor remains incomplete.9 

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In terms of capacity, the new wall is far superior to the old. The previous wall could only hold five climbers at once.10 However, according to Howard, “Not counting COVID-19 restrictions, we can have up to 12 people climbing on roped routes and up to 10 people bouldering at a time.”11 

For students who might not be familiar with the terminology, climbers on “roped routes” are suspended by a rope running through an anchor at the top of the wall and held at the ground by a partner known as a belayer.12 Climbers on “bouldering” routes stay relatively close to the ground and fall onto thick padding.13 The WWU wall offers both activities.14 

Citations 

  1. Interview with Grant Hartman and William Howard, 10/28/2020. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Bridgeman, Gavin. Indoor (Gym) Climbing Basics. REI. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2HKkbBB. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Interview with Grant Hartman and William Howard, 10/28/2020. 
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