A beginner’s guide to climbing: SUU Outdoors’ climbing clinic

On Friday, March 11, SUU Outdoors held a climbing clinic to educate interested students on rock climbing. The clinic was held at the J.L. Sorenson P.E. Building climbing wall.

Derek Bryan, the head of SUU Outdoors, and Casey Webb, a geology professor and rock-climbing enthusiast, ran the clinic. They discussed the different types of climbing, access and ethics, gear for beginners and climbing holds before participants were able to try out everything they had just learned and started climbing.

The types of rock climbing discussed were bouldering, indoor climbing, outdoor non-traditional and traditional climbing and ice climbing. 

Bouldering is climbing done over smaller pitches and without any ropes, instead using a safety pad. 

Non-traditional rock climbing is when climbers are attached to ropes and use a belayer, but hook into pre-existing anchors on cliffs, while traditional climbers create their own anchors as they go.

Ice climbing requires ice axes and crampons, or detachable spikes fastened to the climber’s boots,to climb icy cliffs. 

Webb said he loves climbing because “there is something for everyone in climbing.” There are indoor and outdoor options as well as those that require minimal equipment such as bouldering. The more adventurous can even try climbing in the winter.

Next, the clinic went into a conversation about accessibility ethics with climbing.

Southern Utah has a lot of Bureau of Land Management land where climbing is accessible. This land does not require climbers to have permits and does not have many rules and regulations.

With this accessibility, it is important that climbers follow a code of climbing ethics. This code includes things like trying to leave as little of a trace as possible through not littering and staying on trails.

They also cautioned participants to never climb on or around petroglyphs or other culturally significant areas. He said that climbers should be mindful that they represent the climbing community with every outing. 

He advised all climbers to have an idea of where they are going and the climbing routes they are doing before heading up the cliff and to be courteous and conscientious to all other climbers.

Bryan also gave some pointers for gear that beginners should invest in. This included climbing shoes, safety pads, carabiners and a harness, and to not get overwhelmed by gear. 

“If you are bouldering,” he said, “all you need are shoes, a pad, and chalk if you want it.”

Participants were then allowed to look at the different holds on the wall and together discussed the hold names and how they are used.

SUU Outdoors will be holding a climbing competition on April 16, and in preparation for this competition, the wall will be closed the first week of April.

More information about future climbing clinics and SUU Outdoors activities, follow them on Instagram, visit their website or inquire at Basecamp located next to the Chick-fil-a in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.

Article and Photo by: Callie King-Stevens