- Associated Press - Monday, May 19, 2014

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - Growing up, Jade Collins often visited a Little Rock rock climbing center with her dad. The experience led her to attend the grand opening of Arkansas State University’s new rock climbing wall.

“I love it. It’s a fun experience,” Collins, a freshman from Hector, told The Jonesboro Sun (https://bit.ly/1gE6BGv). “It’s a good way to get your exercise in without realizing it until you get done.”

The new rock climbing wall at ASU’s Red Wellness Opportunities and Life Fitness (WOLF) Center was dedicated May 6. University officials said the project originated two years ago after a student survey indicated a desire for a climbing wall.

“I feel awesome,” said Carol Cummings, director of campus recreation. “The kids have been so excited and asking when it’s going to open. I didn’t realize how big of a rock climbing community we have.”

The $160,000 project had Nicros Inc., of St. Paul, Minnesota, building the 31-foot tall and 21-foot wide wall. It provides 600-square-feet of climbing space, which Collins climbed twice.

“The left side is the easiest and it gets harder as you get to the right,” she added.

Both Collins and Student Government Association parliamentarian Dane Leake said they would climb again. It was Leake’s first time to rock climb.

“It was exciting,” Leake, a junior, said. “I’m from Memphis. I don’t do a lot of outdoor stuff, and it’s good to know I can rock climb here anytime I want.”

Cummings said the wall will only be open when staff are present because it is a fun, but dangerous sport. Participants must sign a waiver before being outfitted to climb.

All necessary climbing equipment is provided, and a certified instructor from Climbing Wall Association led an eight-hour safety training session for staff.

Trey Hick, campus recreation’s assistant coordinator of building services, was one of those trained, but he was already well acquainted with rock climbing. He travels Arkansas for recreational rock climbing.

“It’s challenging, something different,” said Hicks, a former rugby player who also does martial arts. “When I see the sport of rock climbing, it’s a different challenge. You are not trying to lift more or run faster. It just involves a different type of muscle.

Hicks is now in charge of the staff hiring and training for the climbing wall.

“Just the thought of it was exciting,” Hicks said. “Rock climbing is not well known as a sport in this area. It was great just to bring it and expose students to a new sport because they come to the facility and see the same machines and routines. It’s a new way to challenge yourself.”

But, he warned that first-time climbers typically only make it halfway up since they haven’t developed the muscle to climb, or they look down and the height gets to them.

Up to four people can climb simultaneously, and each section has multiple routes that can be taken. Hicks said, since it is new, the routes are easier versions but can be shifted over time.

“Initially, we want everyone to get on the wall and succeed,” he added. “But we want to make it a challenge.”


Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com

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