Climbing team back from Walla Walla with No. 5 rank

Kyvon Henry, Staff Reporter

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You wouldn’t expect a person with a fear of heights to be leading a team that climbs to unusual heights.

Dan Connelly, a senior from Bainbridge Island double majoring in psychology and sociology, has been competing on a rock-climbing team since his freshman year and currently holds the fifth most points overall in the Northwest Collegiate Climbing Circuit male category.

When questioned about his fear of heights he jokingly said “I don’t fall.”

Connelly predicted a top-five performance at Whitman College (WC) behind his increased performance in the latter parts of the year, including his past circuits at WC earning first place in his category each year.

Connelly has shifted categories, currently on the opening category which is for top performers.

WC wall is notorious for being an overhang wall, Connelly said  “Overhung walls are intense on the upper body.“

“The hardest thing about competing is feeling as if you’re equipped but not able to figure the route, whether it’s understanding how to climb or a move doesn’t suite your climbing ability. It’s even harder when teammates can understand, and you’re stuck figuring it out,” Connelly said. “Coming back fresh and not overthinking your decision is the best way to combat frustration.”

According to the Northwest Collegiate climbing circuit, the Wildcats are currently ranked fifth overall.

Ben Baldwin, a junior transfer from Bellevue college, conquered his fear of heights after a couple months of rocking climbing. Baldwin was first introduced to rock-climbing by a friend in his hometown who took him to a gym in Bellevue with 50-60 feet walls and men dangling at the top of the course.

“I better not be doing that, there is no way,” he said, nervously onlooking.

Baldwin now has a year of experience with CWU’s team.

“The past competitions have been a lot of fun. I’m not so big on competing to be the best, but I also go there to experience the route and meet the people.”

Along with competing in Walla Walla, Baldwin was also in the sweet onion eating competition the city is known for, where a delegated team member chows down on onions as fast as they can for a currently unknown prize.

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Climbing team back from Walla Walla with No. 5 rank