Heading to the top
CWU's Climbing Wall hosts rock climbing lessons for local kids
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The CWU climbing wall stands 50 feet tall, covered in colorful handholds and frequently has a climber celebrating at the top. Every Sunday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. the wall is taken over by local kids learning how to climb at Kids Rock, a kids climbing session hosted by CWU. Children ages six and up are allowed to climb anything they want on the wall and instructors are on-hand to teach basic techniques. The climbing wall is available to all CWU students, but Kids Rock is open to everyone.
Kids Rock allows children interested in climbing to learn how to climb in a safe environment. Taylor Wehr, a senior at CWU, has been climbing for five years and got hooked on climbing when his cousin showed him how. Wehr is now one of the instructors at the climbing wall who helps with Kids Rock. Wehr said that there are usually two to eight kids who show up on Sundays and some who return each week to improve their skills.
“We’ve got gymnast rings we can set up if they like that. However, a lot of the kids like to get to the top. They just want to get up there,” said Wehr.
No prior knowledge is necessary to participate in Kids Rock and instructors like Wehr are happy to assist the kids with whatever they decide to climb, as well as give pointers. The majority of kids who come on Sundays are from the community and want to learn how to climb at the one of the only nearby professional walls. According to Wehr, the climbing wall staff changes the wall’s holds every two weeks, so there is always a new challenge to attempt.
“They [Aurelia and Elizabeth] don’t usually get to come and climb so this is a good opportunity,” said Brian Gable, Aurelia and Elizabeth’s father. “They’re getting a lot of one-on-one and they’re getting to do pretty much any route that they want to do.”
7-year-old Aurelia and 10-year-old Elizabeth Gable both do gymnastics and have fun climbing. After just one Kids Rock session, Elizabeth was able to climb to the top of the wall.
“I’m not really scared of heights,” Elizabeth said.
The instructors keep the climbers roped in at all times and regulate their speed as they descend.
Aurelia said that her favorite part of climbing is coming down, “It’s fun because you get to push off the wall and you get to swing,” Aurelia said.
Elizabeth said that rock climbing is similar to gymnastics, “you are high but you go slow.”
The climbing wall is setup to accommodate climbers of all sizes and skills, it all depends on the route. According to Elizabeth, the brown holds are, “definitely a lot harder because they’re really spaced out. I think it would be for more of a bigger person or an adult rather than a kid.”
CWU has one of only two climbing walls in the area. “Besides Wenatchee, I think the closest one is on the west side, probably two hours away,” said Wehr. “In that area on the west side there are probably like four. So yeah it’s getting more popular.”
With other climbing walls being far away, CWU offers a space where kids can learn how to climb properly and safely without a risk of getting injured. The climbing wall also encourages kids to get active while doing it in a challenging and creative way.