When nearby Clipper Mill Industrial Park burned several
years ago, members of the Hopkins Outdoors Club pined for another
place to practice their rock-climbing skills.
Last week, their wish came true when a squash court in the Newton H. White Jr. Athletic Center became home to an indoor climbing wall. It is a distinction shared by about 10 percent of the nation's colleges and universities.
William Harrington, coordinator of recreational sports, and Outdoors Club members invited President William R. Brody (left); Larry Benedict, dean of Homewood Student Affairs; and Tom Calder, athletic director, to dress down to try out the 20-foot-high wall.
After his trip to the top, the president was even game for a little Zen meditation: "A climbing wall is a metaphor for life," he said. "I think it's terrific to provide physical challenges for our students as well as intellectual ones."
But the indoor climbing wall is more than just a neat way to escape the pressures of the day.
"Instead of weightlifting and bike riding, this is a strength and conditioning activity," Harrington says. "It's like doing push-ups on a wall."
The facility will be open from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday to anyone with access to the athletic center. Harrington says the times will likely change as the academic year progresses.
While anyone can climb the approximately 1,000-square-foot surfaces--a less challenging forward leaning wall, a moderate vertical wall and a more difficult overhang wall--users must must pass a skills test before their first ascent. Spotters will be on duty, much like guards who oversee the swimming pool. Harrington says that should a fall occur, the 9-to-10-inch pea gravel flooring is a pretty good shock absorber.
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