Have you noticed all of the Colorado College students stoked on rock climbing and wondered what it’s all about? Starting in Block 2, the Outdoor Recreation Committee (ORC) will be offering a new course: Rock School 101. The course, aimed at teaching new climbers or gym climbers the necessary skills to sport climb outside, will last for the entire Block, with meetings once or twice each week.
The course is part of a new program that is the brainchild of several ORC employees and student climbing instructors and will be led by Jamie Smith ‘18 and Michael Kauzmann ‘16. CC already offers plenty of opportunities for climbers to develop their guiding capabilities through Ahlberg Leadership Institute courses or refine their skills through clinics, but there was no formal program for teaching gym climbers to safely transition to climbing outside.
This is a common problem in the climbing world. As more and more gyms crop up on college campuses and city centers, more people become interested in climbing; however, many gym climbers lack the knowledge necessary to safely transition outside, which is a significantly riskier endeavor than indoor climbing.
This course is intended to fill that void. Participants will have sessions once or twice per week to learn how to tie important knots and hitches, build and clean anchors for sport climbs, rappel, and practice lead climbing.
“Climbing is a highly mentor based sport, where a new climber can find a more experienced one and learn directly from them through climbing itself,” Smith said. “That is how all of the instructors got into climbing, and we want to give back to new climbers. Rock School allows this mentor relationship to bloom in a highly controlled and educational setting but promotes future trips involving instructors, participants, and other climbers outside of the structured classroom setting.”
The course will culminate in two outdoor field trips to Red Rocks and Shelf Road, over second and third weekends, respectively.
The Rock School 101 course will be followed by a Rock School 202 course in the spring, which will focus on traditional or “trad” climbing (a form of climbing where climbers place their own protection as they climb, as opposed to sport climbing, where bolts are permanently affixed to the rock) and multi-pitch climbing.
Enrollment has been extremely successful thus far; Rock School 101 filled up within the first day of being on Summit and has a wait list of 14 people. “This is kind of a test trial to see how successful it is and to work out the kinks,” said Smith. “If there is positive feedback, we are planning on offering Rock School 101 and 202 next semester, tentatively Block 7.
The program is meant to empower climbers to take their climbing skills to a new level and get outside.”
The ORC hopes for similar interest second semester, as well as further collaboration between Climbers’ Association of Colorado College (CACC) and ORC to strengthen the climbing community and cater to more students.