The climbing community at UNH is growing and diversifying, and the walls that they climb seem to be doing the same.
This year’s annual climbing competition, run by Outdoor Adventures of Campus Rec, that typically takes place at the old climbing wall at the Whittemore Center, has been permanently relocated to the new revamped wall inside of the Hamel Recreation Center and took place on Sunday, March 5.
“This wall is much bigger, although the other wall had more roof space,” sophomore outdoor education (OE) major Spencer Marshall said.
Marshall claimed he was trying to place in the competition but was mostly there for fun.
“I started climbing pretty intensively fall of my freshman year and since then I have been climbing a bunch in my OE courses,” Marshall said.
According to Marshall, last spring break he, as well as some fellow climbers and professor Nate Fitch, went down to Alabama to do some bouldering to gain experience.
The new wall not only is bigger in size but is also more diverse.
“The new wall is 50 feet long and 12 feet high with some added features like a big crack, a bigger protrusion and many more possible routes,” senior mechanical engineering major Joel Russell said, who was running the event for his fourth year.
“Every year the turnout is bigger, and last year there were so many people we had to control the circulation of climbers on the wall and this year we can just let everyone climb,” Russell said.
The climbers in attendance came to a consensus that the new wall was, in fact, better than the old.
“Personally I would say this is a much better design than the last one, the last one was just one great roof and you don’t get that as often as climbers,” sophomore outdoor education major and event host Ben Kremer said.
Climbers of all experience levels came to show off their skills and test the new bouldering wall competitively while still supporting their fellow mountaineers. For some, climbing indoors is fun or a way to stay in shape. For others, the walls are used to practice for the real thing.
“For me, climbing inside is just a way to stay in shape for the outdoor climbing, but outside is really where it’s at,” Kremer said.
The climbers lined the thick blue mat separating them from the wall eagerly waiting for Kremer to give the word to set the competition in motion.
“We can start climbing, but don’t stampede the mat! Now go crush!” Kremer said.
With the greater turnout of climbers came more female climbers as well. One woman in particular, senior psychology major and art minor Rachael Galipo, stood out, climbing walls holding herself up by the tips of her toes on the smallest protruding foot holds to reach the top.
“I have probably been climbing for about two and a half years now…I love climbing so why not do a [competition] at the university?” Galipo said. “I do a lot of ice climbing, and sport climbing and [traditional] climbing. I don’t typically do bouldering so it’s surprising I’m doing so well.”
Although some climbers were hoping to win some of the awards that went to the top climbers in the three categories (Men’s intermediate, Men’s advanced and Women’s), Galipo wasn’t interested in winning.
“I don’t even know what the prizes are; I could honestly care less. It’s just nice to see such a big community. Last year only one girl competed and I have seen five here today so it’s nice to see the climbing community getting bigger, even the female community, that isn’t as big,” Galipo said.
Galipo went on to win the women’s tier of the competition.Men’s Intermediate winner wasjunior recreation management and policy major Parker Bergholm, and Men’s Advanced winner was freshman ecology and ecosystems major Jacob Smith. All three won gear and items donated by various outdoor sporting goods companies, including items such as chalk, bags, clothes and more.