Reaching new heights at the Wellness Center


New climbing program announced

Andrew Podo

Summiting Mount Everest costs thousands of dollars and a trip halfway across the globe to Nepal, but now there’s a cheaper option.

The Climbing Wall at the Wellness and Recreation Center introduced the Reaching New Heights program at the beginning of February to reward avid climbers and help them set goals and track their progress.

“The intent behind [the program] is to get folks excited about returning and bring new folks in,” said Liz Speelman, Director of the Outdoor Center. She hopes the program will offer motivation beyond just climbing.

Staff and volunteers calculated the number of times climbers would have to reach the top of the 26-foot wall to climb the equivalent distance of 22 famous mountains and landmarks from across the globe.

Kayla Van Boven, the graduate assistant in charge of the Climbing Wall, worked to choose recognizable landmarks and peaks for climbers of all levels. For $20 per semester or $35 for the year, climbers can choose to work towards climbs such as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Kilimanjaro in Africa, or even the Harlee Branch Power Plant Smoke Stacks from Milledgeville. The most ambitious climbers can take on the 29,029 foot climb that is Mount Everest, which requires 1,117 trips up the wall.

Sean Groark, a junior psychology major, first developed a passion for climbing at Georgia College. Groark can be found at the wall almost every night, either climbing for fun or working as a volunteer.

Groark admits that while the climbing wall does not have as many options or features as some of the bigger climbing gyms, he appreciates the sense of community and the price of a wall pass.

Van Boven hopes the program will help bring new climbers to the wall. She is organizing a myriad of events and classes, such as game nights, beginners lessons and fitness classes to attract more members. She hopes that students will develop an interest in climbing and see it as a fun, alternative work out.

“It’s not going to get done in one semester,” Van Boven said. “A freshman member, if they come often enough, by the end of four years could probably reach Mount Everest.”



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