Rock climbers reach new heights

Chalky hands grab desperately at rocks as the climber struggles to find their footing, suddenly falling to the ground. But don’t worry, a crash mat was there to catch the fall.

Cold wind nipping at exposed skin and frozen toes tingling in soaking wet boots are the last thing anyone wants to put up with while keeping fit. Welcome to a great alternative – indoor rock climbing.

With multiple gyms in the Ottawa area and clubs at two of the capital’s main schools, students can easily enjoy the activity.

“Our message as a group really is just to make a medium for climbers to meet each other and get together,” says UOttawa Rock Climbing Club president Christopher Chan. “The club in its nature is pretty relaxed.”

The group tries to facilitate events that wouldn’t be possible for individual climbers. Most recently, the club headed out to Calabogie for a bouldering expedition, providing transportation and gear for club members.

“Bouldering is climbing where you’re not attached to any ropes,” Chan explains. “You’re only going up to about 15 feet. That’s the highest your hands will ever get off the ground.”

Most events are simpler however, with casual meetings at local gyms such as Vertical Reality or Coyote Rock Gym.

“I find that there is, generally speaking, two types of climbers,” says Chan. “You have the climbers who come once every three months and they’re like ‘Oh that was kind of fun,’ and you have the kind of people who come once and they’re like ‘I’m doing this again in two days.’”

Chantal Delachevrotiere, vice president of communications for the Carleton Climbing Club, is the latter.

“I’ve been climbing off and on for a while, but it’s only been the past year that I’ve been more frequent and kinda addicted to it,” says Delachevrotiere with a smile.

The Carleton club is new this year, but fairly popular with just shy of 200 likes on their Facebook page and great event showings such as Jan. 21 at Vertical Reality. The club offers students highly discounted rates thanks to the support of local gyms.

Delachevrotiere encourages students to join a club or even head out on their own.

“Every climber started somewhere,” she says. “Every climber totally understands that. Everyone is there to support, sometimes literally up on the wall. Everyone is going to give you advice and they’re never gonna judge you. Just come and try it out and see how you feel.”