Saskatchewan is known for its flat landscape but students can go vertical on the Physical Activity Complex’s rock wall.
John Archibald, wall supervisor at the PAC, sees rock climbing as something new and challenging students can try if they are getting bored with their usual activities.
“It’s a good way to change your routine,” he said. “It’s good [for your] upper body strength and it works core muscles too.”
Climbing also gives students the opportunity to test themselves physically and mentally as they see if they are able to reach the top of the wall.
“It’s a way to push yourself individually,” Archibald said. “It’s a good way to push yourself to your limits.”
Ceris Thomas, a third-year psychology student, frequents the climbing wall to socialize and exercise.
“It’s fun. It’s good to get together with your friends and it’s a better workout than people think,” she said.
First time climbers are required to complete a certification process which costs five dollars. Climbers are taken through a lesson where they learn the basics of climbing and must pass a belay test before they are able to scale the wall. The certification lasts for six months, after which students must get recertified if they wish to continue climbing. Recertification is free.
All the required equipment is provided but students can also bring their own if they wish.
The climbing wall is 40 feet high and there are five different ropes that students can use. The further out from the centre students go, the more difficult it will be to reach the top. Students are also able to boulder, which is climbing without ropes or harnesses, but can only go up to a certain height.
In order to climb the wall, students must bring a partner to belay for them. A belayer makes sure the climber has the right amount of slack by letting out or pulling in excess rope and keeps the line locked when the climber isn’t moving. Climbers need slack in order to be able to scale the wall but belayers must not let out too much in case the climber falls. A belayer is crucial to the climber’s safety so it is important that they pay attention at all times.
Rock climbing may seem intimidating because there is only a harness to keep you from falling but the equipment at the PAC is very high quality. Archibald sees many students reluctant to try the wall for this reason, but assures those interested that there is no reason for students to worry due to the equipment.
“Usually it’s just mistrust in the gear that you’re working with or unfamiliarity with it,” Archibald said. “Everything that’s here is rigorously tested out so it will exceed any kind of standard.”
If students have questions or concerns, there are always experienced climbing instructors on-site to help. These people can answer questions about safety, how to improve your technique, which route is the most difficult or can simply provide encouragement to those who need it.
The climbing wall is open from 12 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor