After a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Chester University’s Rock Climbing Club is back and growing significantly. The team competes in the Philadelphia Collegiate Climbing Series (PCCS) against teams from University of Pittsburgh, Temple, Drexel, Villanova, Rowan, Rutgers, UPenn and Lafayette College and performed well in their most recent competition.
The team typically competes in bouldering competitions, “a style of climbing done close to the ground without the use of ropes and harnesses, and with crash matting for protection,” according to club president Dominic Tabone. The climbers then keep track of their scores using point values, where higher point value equals a harder climb. (They call “climbs” different routes of different levels of difficulty). After climbers turn in their top five climbing scores, the highest scores win first to third place.
There are three categories for climbers to compete and level up: in-beginner, intermediate and advanced. At this year’s Golden RAMpage- a PCCS competition hosted yearly by the university- WCU rock climbers consistently placed in the top three of each category. This year they received first place in women’s beginner, first place in men’s beginner, second place in men’s beginner, second place in men’s intermediate, third place in women’s advanced and first place in men’s advanced.
After the competition Tabone stated, “it’s been a fantastic experience… I’m very proud of everyone on the team and believe we can continue to win. Though in the end we are all here to just have fun, I want the other schools to know that the West Chester University Climbing Team is no joke, and very much a strong contender in the PCCS.”
Second-year finance major Carson Danaher placed second in the intermediate category at the RAMpage this semester after signing up for the club at the fall involvement fair. Since then, he has become “admittedly obsessed” with the sport stating, “the atmosphere of climbing is very accepting and relaxed, as even competitors will often work together to figure out the methods and movements required to complete a climb. The climbing community is very tight knit, which makes it feel more like a social activity than a physical one.”
Tabone encourages anyone who is interested in climbing to join the club, as no experience is needed to join, and beginners are welcome. He states, “if you are slightly interested in climbing, please come down to our wall at the rec center. It’s 100% free and a good place to get started. The people that work at the wall are very friendly, and we climbers are always happy to bring in new people into the hobby/sport. If you are a climber and want to get better, join the climbing team…It’s a great environment to train and socialize with other people who have similar interests in rock climbing”
The club meets two times a week on Friday from 7–8 p.m. and on Sunday from 3–4:30 p.m. In the words of Tabone, “as we climbers like to say, just send it.”
Emma Hogan is a second-year English major. EH954390@wcupa.edu