Marine sciences sophomore Noel Clark has been climbing since her sophomore year of high school.

“Through the years I’ve gotten more and more obsessed with it,” Clark said. “It’s one of the sports where I’ve found the community is the strongest.”

Clark is the president of one of the newest clubs on campus: Climbing Club. She formed the club with two fellow student climbers, club Vice President and mechanical engineering sophomore Simon Ford and Chief Executive Advisor and mechanical engineering senior Clayton Alderson. The club currently has nine members, but more than 120 people have expressed interest.  

“The overall intent is to facilitate the growth of the climbing community,” mechanical engineering sophomore and club Treasurer George Luebaeman said. “We’ll welcome anybody of any expertise or lack thereof. It’s all about sharing new skills.”

Video by Jared Smith

How they started

The founders began the process of forming the club early in Fall 2018 and it became officially recognized and chartered by Cal Poly on Dec. 3.

“It usually doesn’t take that long [to become chartered], but the university had some concerns about safety, which is understandable because [climbing] is a high-risk sport,” Ford said.

These safety concerns are the main reason Climbing Club will only host excursions at indoor climbing gyms. However, the club is considering becoming a club sport in the future, which may allow members to have more freedom in participating in outdoor climbing as a team.

Climbing clubs have been formed at Cal Poly in the past, but all dissolved for different reasons. The founders of the newest Climbing Club are set on building a sustainable foundation that will outlast their time at Cal Poly.

The climbing community

The founders’ main motivation to start the club was a mutual appreciation for the sport and a desire to connect with individuals who feel the same. For them, climbing is more than a sport; it is a community.

“There’s so much support that filters between climbing partners and other people in your gym or wherever you’re climbing,” Clark said.

Each founding member has years of climbing experience under their belt and hopes to offer their knowledge to new members of any skill level.

“I started climbing when I was a baby,” Alderson said. “I skipped crawling and went to climbing.” 

Those involved in the climbing community at Cal Poly and in San Luis Obispo often meet up to climb at the Poly Wall on campus beside the Recreation Center and The Pad, a local climbing gym. They can also be found on climbing excursions all around California at spots like Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Bishop Peak.

“We’re hoping that Climbing Club can provide not only opportunities to climb, but also to form friendships,” Ford said. “The whole reason that we started this was to be a part of and help grow this community we’ve been so impacted by.”

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