The natural world is a non-man-made work of art and perhaps is best seen from up high.
Seeing the world from an aerial viewpoint is one way in which some Keene State College students find entertainment.
It’s the fear of falling, the company of friends and the view of the world below that motivates climbers of the Environmental Outing Club to get to the top.
To the members of this KSC club, rock climbing has an entertainment value and a level of focus that other sports and hobbies just do not have.
For spring break this year, the Environmental Outing Club went to Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms, California.
Member said they spent a week without guides camping and climbing, with some beach time mixed in.
Eryn Ryan, a sophomore and biology major who attended the trip, said her rock climbing is more than an outdoor sport.
“I would call it an outlet, one-hundred percent. Instead of going to the gym, going for a run or reading a book, I’d like to climb a wall,” Ryan said. For the climbers, the act of climbing a boulder or a rock face is about adrenaline and getting to the top to see the view.
Mike Staron, the treasurer of the club, said for him, climbing relieves tension and is a form of meditation. Staron said, “It’s a very relaxing thing to do, it eases tension and whatnot.”
Staron continued, “If I’m having a rough day and I go and rock climb, you just leave it on the wall. More than any other sport that I participate in, it’s so much more focused.” According to www.gorp.com, a source for outdoor travel advice, the art of rock climbing relates to problem solving.
“The essence of bouldering is problem-solving, and it has a zen-like quality that exercises your mind as much as your grip strength. It also requires practiced technique. A challenging problem won’t leave room for slipshod movements, and as your bouldering improves you’ll see your balance grow more delicate and your movements more graceful,” the website reports.
The Environmental Outing Club climbs once or twice a week during the winter and the spring, depending on the weather. They meet Mondays at 8 p.m. in the Morrison building on the KSC campus. From there, they go to an indoor climbing wall at Central Rock Climbing Gym in Hadley, Mass. and in the spring they also climb a rock bridge on Marlboro Street in Keene.
For these students, rock climbing is about motivation; it is about getting to the top, with each climber focusing on something to keep them going.
Staron said a key motivator is looking down on what you just climbed. “If there’s a nice view at the top and you’re stuck trying to get to the top, use that,” Staron said.
Referring to the trip to California, he said, “No matter where we were climbing ,there was always an awesome view.”
Alex Tragakes, a sophomore and sustainable product design major, said his favorite climb in California was a 25-foot boulder called “Flash Face.“ They climbed without ropes, only spotters and crash pads below them.
He said his favorite view of the trip was the sunset they saw after climbing “Flash Face.” Tragakes said, “We were at the crest of the mountain and watched the sunset over the mountains, it was really beautiful.” For Tragakes, climbing is about the rush.
“I just get so much adrenaline from heights…That’s what makes me push myself when I’m climbing. It’s the excitement of, you know, being up high but knowing you’re safe from falling and getting hurt,” Tragakes said.
Another aspect the group said they enjoy about climbing and outdoor activities is being with friends and getting to pick their pace.
“You’re not trying to beat a time or anything, you’re just trying to get up a route and it’s kind of hanging out — just a bunch of people going to a rock face and hanging out,” Staron said.
Hannah Sundell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org