Justus Voss’s stomach was in his throat. One wrong move, one slip up or one misplaced foot, and it would be over. He reached his hand up, stretched to snag a small ledge with his cramped fingertips, and pulled himself to the top of the rock. And just like that, he had completed his first of many climbs in Joshua Tree.
And then he was falling. His belay had been dropped by his teammate, and he began to freefall. With 10 feet left before hitting the ground, his rope was pulled tight and he was safely lowered to the floor. Shaken, but proud, Voss high-fived his new teammates, members of PLNU’s rock climbing club.
As a beginner, climbing can be daunting, or even terrifying, but the group of climbers Voss has come to know has created a whole new community for him. “Nothing pushes you to grow more than a community of challenging climbers,” says Voss.
For PLNU rock climbing club’s president, Aaron Sumner, rock climbing had given him the opportunity for growth since his junior year of high school. When Sumner fell in love with climbing after his first experience at his local gym, he began climbing six days per week for the next two years. When he got to PLNU, he found a new community of climbers to help him keep up with his favorite hobby.
Bringing in new members to the club, such as Voss, and many other college students looking for adventure, is part of the fun of the club, says Sumner. The climbing club meets about three to six times per week to train, and they make expeditions once per month out to Joshua Tree, Mission Gorge or even Yosemite to climb.
The climbing club has had to endure some of its own rough terrain this past year. After being left with an unfortunate amount of debt owed to Mesa Rim Climbing Gym after last school year, the club’s agreement with the training gym was terminated.
Connor Brandenburg, ASB Director of Student Relations, is in charge of the 65+ clubs on campus and fought to get the climbing club more funding. “Unfortunately, Mesa Rim terminated its contract with us because of neglect of payments,” says Brandenburg. “The previous president had gone over-budget without us noticing, and the gym revoked the agreement for one year.”
As of right now, the club doesn’t have the ability to train at the gym, which makes improving their skills as a club more difficult. “Technically the club is still a club… but since we lost our funding, we lost our ability to train, so everything has kind of been put on hold for now,” says the current president, Aaron Sumner.
If students are looking to join, they can contact Brandenburg for additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org. The club still goes on outdoor trips to climb and put their skills to the test. “We may be in a tough spot financially this year,” says Sumner, “but our passion for climbing and pushing our bodies to new heights hasn’t died.”
By: Kate Cyr