Climbing the Walls

Indoor rock climbing course offers fitness and challenge to students.

The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” blared in the background as Rebecca Folden ’11 meticulously made her way up the 40-foot-tall climbing wall at Rise Up, an indoor rock climbing gym in downtown Lynchburg. Her classmates and instructor yelled encouragement from below as she moved from one hold to another, finally reaching the top and looking down with a big smile.

Folden, an experienced rock climber, was part of Randolph’s new half-credit rock climbing course, which is open to students of all experience levels. The class was designed to offer Randolph students a modern take on physical fitness. The course, which requires an additional fee, provides students with transportation, equipment rental, instruction, and individual practice time.

Dan Hague, the owner of Rise Up and co-author of The Self-Coached Climber, teaches the students along with another instructor. Hague said climbing is a growing sport nationally, and Randolph has also seen an increasing interest in the rock climbing course.

“Gyms provide a more comfortable environment in which to explore climbing,” he said. “Instruction and equipment are provided in a supervised and supportive atmosphere. A gym is also quite social, allowing participants to interact with others of like passions. And of course there is the draw of the climbing itself, a mentally and physically challenging activity.”

The course design provides students with basics of climbing, including equipment use, safety, and terminology. It also provides more advanced instruction in sequencing, hand and foot precision, and dynamic movement, which allows experienced climbers to hone their skills.

Folden fell in love with rock climbing more than a decade ago at a family camp near her home in Bothell, Washington. A member of the women’s basketball team, she hoped the class would inspire her to “keep exercising and stay in shape” after graduation.

That is exactly what Randolph’s physical education department wants to hear. “One of the goals of our department is to offer courses that promote lifelong activity, including selections of more contemporary fitness opportunities,” said Carolyn Sarson, a physical education professor.

“As an activity growing in popularity, rock climbing seemed a natural fit with the opening of the Rise Up facility in downtown Lynchburg. I was thrilled with the opportunity to work with Dan in creating a wonderful class with quality instruction for our students,” she added.