Rock climbing team grows with open arms


Senior Ian Colunga battles gravity during competition on Feb. 20. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

Steep inclines, small footholds and strenuous challenges are three things the rock climbing team looks forward to.

The team, made up of Chico State students, has been active for one year, and has gained a larger following this semester because of its lax policies regarding practice and competition.

The team is not officially affiliated with Chico State because of the liability associated with rock climbing, as well as the young state of the team. Despite this, the team has made the most of the circumstances by choosing to make practice optional and allowing any person to join.

First-year Max Pond spotting his next hold during competition on Feb. 20. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

The only requirement for the team according to the captain, senior advanced climber Pablo Velasco, is attendance regarding their competitions.

“We were really excited to have so many people come out and want to learn to climb,” Velasco said. “We’ve grown from about 10 people to 40, and I think that can go up even more.”

Team members are divided into three categories depending on their abilities and experience. Beginning climbers are classified in the recreational category, while more experienced climbers are considered intermediate. Advanced is the highest level of the sport, and the most competitive.

Senior Riley Cox clings to the wall during competition on Feb. 20. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

The team meets once a week to practice in the outdoors, while choosing to take advantage of the Wildcat Recreation Center in their individual time.

The relaxed atmosphere of the team and the lack of competition of the sport has succeeded in attracting people who are discouraged by traditional team sports. First-year intermediate climber Brie Evans was excited to join the team this semester because of the friendly atmosphere the team attempts to cultivate.

“It’s a great way to make a ton of friends and get in a really good workout all while having a blast,” Evans said.

The team relaxing after a long day of competing at Stanford University on Feb. 20. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

Despite the little emphasis on competitions, the team still competes in four competitions throughout the year, most recently at Stanford on Feb. 20. Because the team is not affiliated with the school, each member is required to find their own ride, an experience that Velasco believes increases team chemistry.

“It’s nice to be able to get on Facebook or message someone to get a ride. You get a really close bond with everyone,” Velasco said.

The team will be participating in the Sacramento State meet on March 5, their second meet of the year. While the team retains its laid back nature, the goal of reaching the regional meet on March 26 in Arcata serves as a driving factor for many of the advanced members.

Kenta McAfee can be reached at [email protected] or @KentaMcAfee on Twitter.