New T-Birds’ First Rock Climbing Experience

In Texas, there can scarcely be found a hill, let alone a place to go climbing. Bearing this in mind, imagine the surprise of freshmen pre-nursing major, Texas native and rock climbing novice Madilyn Jones’s peers when she announced she was going rock climbing.

“They asked me where, and I told them in the mountains!” Jones said excitedly with a non-native emphasis on the ‘t’ in mountain.

The SUU Outdoor Center organized a climbing trip on Saturday, Sept. 22. The trip was free to students and provided climbing gear and transportation just a few miles up Cedar Canyon to a popular climbing spot know as Graveside.


Nestled in a little crag just off State Highway 14, about nine miles east of Cedar City, is a climber’s paradise. Tall pines and quaking aspens fill the small gulch where eager climbers hike uphill a short distance to the limestone cliff face overlooking the highway below.

The climbing adventure was led by students Kayla Harley and Chris Carey from the Outdoors Center. Those attending the trip were divided into two groups, one heading out at 8 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m. on the 22.

In the afternoon group of about nine students, almost all were from out-of-state. Attending SUU from states such as Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Texas, these students were eager to take advantage of the unique outdoor opportunities that can’t be found at any other school in the nation.

“I was really excited about the chance to go climbing for free because I’ve never been climbing,” said Reed Hammond, a freshman studying exercise science.


Hammond, along with several other first-time climbers, spent about four hours scaling different routes at Graveside, ranging from a 5.8 rating to a 5.10c.

“I knew the university would do a good job with the activity, making sure it was safe and fun for everybody involved,”Hammond said.

Safety was a top priority for the climbers and trip leaders ensured that everyone was prepared for the trip. At the pre-adventure meeting on the Wednesday before, the would-be climbers were invited to get belay-certified at the rock wall located in the P.E. building on campus.

Trip leader Chris Carey, a geology major, is a setter at the wall, meaning he places the hand holds to vary the difficulty of the routes.

“A lot of times I try to recreate a climb I’ve been on,” Carey said. “If there’s a cool or challenging spot I’ve seen, I’ll try and set the wall kind of the same.”

If students want to get more involved SUU Outdoor adventures, they can visit Basecamp located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center or call 435-865-8704.

Story By: Reyce Knutson
Photos By: Reyce Knutson