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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Rocks, blood blisters build community in A&M climbing

Industrial+distribution+sophomore+Peyton+Martinez+climbs+the+bouldering+wall+during+practice+on+Oct.+1%2C+2023+at+A%26amp%3BM%26%238217%3Bs+Student+Rec+Center.
Photo by Elizabeth Robertson, JOUR 359 contributor.

Industrial distribution sophomore Peyton Martinez climbs the bouldering wall during practice on Oct. 1, 2023 at A&M’s Student Rec Center.

Most people see rocks as obstacles, but the A&M club climbing team views them as an opportunity to solve problems and create a community.
Tryouts for the 2023-24 team were held during the first two weeks of the fall semester. The team of 40 athletes agree they hear many misconceptions about their sport, but also said they feel most understood when on the climbing wall. The first competition of the season is an all-day bouldering competition —BTHO Gravity — on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Student Rec Center against five Texas universities.
As an official A&M club sport, the team is where most climbers are first exposed to competitions rather than climbing “for fun,” electrical engineering senior Cole Lusk said, who is coaching for the first time this semester. The team competes through USA Climbing’s Collegiate Climbing Series, according to the A&M climbing website. A&M won the 2019 regional championship.
Getting everyone to the Sunday and Wednesday night practices can be challenging, he noted.
An athlete once texted the coach, “I have too many blood blisters on my hands; I won’t be coming to practice tonight,” Lusk said.
A common misconception is that practices are simply about how fast a climber can get up the wall, Holly Roper, an electrical engineering graduate student and team president, said. The team participates in two of the three types of competitive climbing — lead climbing and bouldering — but not speed climbing, Roper said.
Bouldering is climbing a route ranging from 15-20 feet off the ground without ropes and with as few attempts as possible, Lusk explained. A lead event is climbing with a rope as high as possible in six minutes, according to Olympics.com.
“Yeah, it’s a physical sport, but when you climb a route you have to think through the problems,” industrial distribution sophomore Peyton Martinez said.
Martinez said he made the team this semester during the open tryouts. While he spent most of his life climbing, it was something he did for himself, Martinez said. Now that he climbs with the club, he said it is about finding a community.
“You can be any shape, size, demographic and you can still climb,” civil engineering senior Sabine Waldron said.
Climbing is both a workout and being social, Waldron said, who also joined the team this semester. Climbing, she said, is a way to meet friends.
Lusk noted that the team has become very interconnected.
“These are my people,” Lusk explained. “If you ask who my family is at A&M, it’s the climbing team.”
The competition begins at 9 a.m. and is open to the public. A&M climbing will compete against A&M-Commerce, UT-Arlington, Stephen F. Austin, TCU and North Texas.
To watch the team compete, visitors can use an A&M ID to enter the Student Rec Center. Half of the competition will be at the climbing wall, which is the first structure at the north entrance, and the other half will be at the bouldering wall, which is in front of the weight room.
Follow the team @TAMUClimbing on Instagram for updates.
Elizabeth Robertson is a recreation, park and tourism sciences junior and contributed this article from JOUR 359, Reporting Sports, to The Battalion.

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