Climbing Club Reaches New Heights - Humboldt State Now

Climbing Club Reaches New Heights

The 2011-2012 academic year will be the first year that the Student Climbing Coalition at HSU will be recognized as an official sports club. But that hasn’t stopped coalition members from earning national recognition.

Members of the 2011 HSU Student Climbing Coaltion in Bishop, Calif. during their annual climbing retreat.

This April, six members of the coalition traveled to the Mesa Rim indoor climbing gym in San Diego, Calif., for the Collegiate Climbing Series national competition.

There, the Humboldt State team placed second overall out of 105 competitors from coast to coast.

“They wanted to go down there with the intention of climbing strong and placing, but I don’t know if they knew how well they’d do,” says Taylor Knott (’13, Forest Conservation), president of the coalition. “We crushed.”

The competition included a range of routes and problems that tested the limits of each climber’s skill and agility. The event was scored in two fields. One event focused on rope climbing, with walls as much as 65-feet tall. The other focused on bouldering.

“Bouldering can call for some crazy hard body movements on tiny holds,” Knott says. “All you have are the pads on the ground and someone to spot you.”

A climber’s top three scores from each category determined their final placement.

In addition to the team’s success, HSU’s Hannah Hilowitz took first place in the Female Junior competition and founding coalition member Nolan Kloer received a $1,000 Ambassador Scholarship.

The national win came just weeks after the coalition took top honors in Sacramento, Calif., in the California Regional competition.

“We’re really stoked about it,” says coalition member, Jamie Dawson (’13, Natural Resources Planning).

Although the team has been evolving since 2009—first as a close-knit group of loosely-organized climbers, then as a student club and now as an officially funded sports club—the progress it has made in those short years is promising to its members.

“It’s only our second season as a legitimately organized club and it was our first time to go as an organized group to a national competition,” Dawson says. “It’s been really exciting for everybody.”

And while the national recognition feels good, according to Knott, competitions and awards play more of a minor role in the coalition.

“Sometimes the best part about being in the coalition is just getting to meet new people, teaching them to climb and seeing them progress,” Knott says. “If you climb well and you progress a little—and if you’re having fun—that’s the whole point. You can’t lose sight of that.”

Student climbers of all levels are welcome to join the coalition. And although experience isn’t necessary to become a member, the pure love of the sport can become infectious.

“Sometimes you’re outside climbing for six hours straight. At the end of the day, you’re exhausted. You might cut your fingers and you might be in pain,” Knott says. “But you’ve been able to hang out with friends. You’ve been able to see some amazing country. And you still say to yourself, ‘I can do this again tomorrow.’”

To learn more about the Student Climbing Coalition, visit their website.

And for more on the national competition, check out a “Report From the 2011 Collegiate Climbing Series,” written by HSU’s own Alex Borst, member of the Student Climbing Coalition.