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The journey and the friends: Climbing Club

Clemson Climbing Club // Courtesy
Clemson Climbing Club members at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

Rock walls, road trips and racing to the top: these are the things that the Clemson Climbing Club is all about.

The mission of the club is to bring people to climbing, especially by giving them access to the outdoors. Not only do they scale the rock wall at Fike Recreation Center, but also at different locations ranging from Kentucky to Alabama.

They ventured up to Foster Falls, Tennessee, for one of their beginner-friendly trips during the weekend of Sept. 9. In October, they will be heading to Kentucky to climb along the Red River Gorge, a premier climbing spot near the East Coast.

On these weekend treks, there are good rocks and even better people. The club rents campsites and brings carloads of gear along. Some members of the club even have goals to go climbing every weekend, and the Climbing Club helps them achieve that.

“Most of my friends here, I’ve met through Climbing Club. Everyone’s fun, chill and likes going outside. Also, it’s a great way to stay in shape,” Ava Napoletano, a junior marketing major and the club’s competition coordinator, told The Tiger. “It helped me explore different areas in the southeast. Not being from around here, it’s been really cool to see.”

Martin Beck, a sophomore environmental and natural resources major, as well as the club’s president, connected with the organization before he even got to Clemson.

“Senior year of high school, I reached out to the club here and asked if I could join in on some stuff as a student in high school. And I came on a couple of trips, they taught me the basics and the stuff that I couldn’t figure out for myself. Then, of course, when I came here… I just walked in, looked for the climbing club, and that’s it,” Beck said.

However, it wasn’t always easy for Beck. When he first started climbing, he was paralyzed by his fear of heights.

“It was just getting out there and forcing myself to be at this height and knowing that I can trust my own body to take care of myself.”

Now, Beck has conquered his fear and has even climbed the Frankenjura in southern Germany.

The club also hosts biannual rock climbing competitions with schools from all over the southeast. This fall is the Rockopotamus on Sept. 30 at Fike Recreation Center. It is an all-day event, with 21 different schools represented. There will be four different heats throughout the day, as well as prizes and pizza. Napoletano said the ability to connect with different climbers in the southeast at these competitions is one of the unique opportunities of the Climbing Club.

Anyone interested in the club is welcome to join at the Fike rock wall on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 8-10 p.m. It is open to people of all kinds of skill levels. More experienced club members can help you get your feet off the ground (literally) and onto bigger, better and higher boulders.

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Avery Mock
Avery Mock, TimeOut Editor
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