Intramurals introduces bouldering

Eric Smith

 The Washburn Student Recreation and Wellness Center offers a plethora of intramural activities for students to choose from. And each year, it adds new ones including the rock wall bouldering contest, taking place at the SRWC from 4pm – 8 p.m., Nov. 9-12.

John Cummings, SRWC program coordinator, said Rock wall bouldering is an aspect of rock climbing that is in a much safer environment being only two or three feet off the ground.


“It’s an opportunity to really get the feel of what rock climbing is without really having to deal with the safety equipment or the height or anything like that,” said Cummings. “Because bouldering, by definition, is really traversing across the wall horizontally. There’s very little vertical movement.”


Participants just come for one of the four days and compete in three separate routes on the rock wall, and rock wall certification is not required. Climbers start out with 100 points and are judged on the criteria of holds, falls and time. Holds are the things climbers grab onto as they move across the wall. Each route has a specific amount of holds to grab and three points are deducted for each hold missed. Every time a climber falls off the wall, they lose 10 points. With time, one point is deducted for every 30 seconds beginning at the five minute mark on each route.


The competition is broken into four divisions for men and women with beginner and intermediate.


Cummings said Washburn senior Johnathon Blake really enjoys climbing on the rock wall and bouldering and is probably one of the most experienced climbers on campus.


Blake, who used to work at the SRWC, has participated in most of the rock wall climbing intramural events and has enjoyed the experience of rock wall climbing since his freshman year.


“It’s a unique outlook for exercising for those who don’t want to maybe lift weights or run on a treadmill forever. You can do the rock wall,” said Blake. “The first few times you do it it’s a rush.


“It offers a different challenge, a different workout. Good upper body workout being as how it can get your adrenaline going.”


Blake, as an avid rock wall enthusiast, said he knows the Washburn rock wall pretty well actually tying for the title in last year’s rock wall competition and is excited for the new bouldering competition.


“I’ve made quite a few bouldering routes and I’ve had some chances to work on it. I hope I have a pretty decent shot [to win],” said Blake.


While the SRWC is putting on the bouldering event, the PE 306 class administration of athletics, intramurals and PE, taught by Ross Friesen, is assisting. Alex Willis, a student in the class, said they will be there to help with registration and running the event. 


“It’ll be a lot of fun,” said Willis. “Just something different. There’s different aspects to it because there’s no harness and you go across the wall instead of vertically.”


Willis said Friesen made the bouldering event a class project as something to help them see what planning an event like bouldering would take.