Since its formation in the spring of 2017, the Trinity Rock Climbing Club has established a firm footing and is climbing towards the goal of competing as a team. In the meantime, the club, which has about 12 serious members but more than 70 people that have expressed interest in climbing, has given Trinity students a sense of community and a good workout.
Some prominent club members include sophomores Malcolm Fox, Grace Cline and Declan Kiely.
Fox, a religion major, is the son of an amateur mountaineer and grew up rock climbing near his home of Seattle, Washington.
A native of Houston, Texas, Cline is a psychology and religion double major who started regularly rock climbing at the age of 16.
Meanwhile, Tulsa, Oklahoma native Kiely, a environmental biology major with rock climbing experience, joined the club at Fox’s suggestion.
“I already rock climbed so I told him to sign me up on the email list,” Kiely said. “At their first meeting at the rock climbing gym, I just kind of showed up and then kept going a couple times a week.”
Cline found out about the club from a Trinity Recreation Sports’ Instagram post.
“One of those Instagrams advertised the Trinity Rock Climbing Team and I got so excited. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness! Why have I never heard of this before?’” Cline said. “I just contacted them and said, ‘I’m very interested. I love rock climbing’ and they said, ‘Great. Come on out to The District.’”
The club meets at The District, an indoor bouldering facility on Broadway Street. The District claims to be the only 24-hour bouldering gym in San Antonio, and they offer memberships for $40 a month, in addition to $12 day passes.
“It’s a full-service bouldering gym. It’s just like boulder routes, there’s no rope climbing,” Fox said.
“They’re strategic in their route-setting, so if you’re climbing at a certain level, you’re not going to be discouraged to get off the wall. There’s usually some route at the gym that is fulfilling for you to climb and you’re gonna be able to do it if you put enough — not even physical energy, but mental energy — to figuring out the route.”
The distinction between rope climbing and bouldering is important.
Trinity’s club specializes in bouldering. While rope climbing features equipments such as carabiners and belays, the rock climbing club and The District both focus on free-climbing bouldering on 20-foot walls above soft mats.
“Bouldering really works for the team vision at this point. It’s really dynamic. You’re getting a great workout,” Fox said.“It’s a bit more intense because you spend all your energy by the time you get to the top of that route because the moves are a little bit harder. You have to pay keen attention to your body position in relation to the wall.”
Bouldering offers a great full-body workout that differs from other forms of exercise in relation to intensity and environment.
“I always tell people it’s like yoga on the rocks,” Cline said. “It’s a full-body workout, but you usually don’t get off the wall with heavy breathing.”
“It is probably the best full-body workout in a sport you can find and I’ve played sports my whole life,” Fox said.
In addition to all of the physical strength gained through climbing, the sport is mentally engaging as well.
“It’s problem-solving on the wall with your body,” Kiely said.
Being physically fit is not enough to succeed at rock climbing.
“You can be in the best shape of your life and still not be that good at rock climbing, ’cause you have to get yourself in a state of mind where you’re not afraid of heights. You are calm and relaxed; you know how to make the moves and where to make them,” Cline said.
Fox emphasizes how enjoyable the activity is.
“You get out of it what you put into it,” Fox said.
“So you can really take a deep dive into rock climbing and get obsessed with it really easily.
It’s really infatuating — wanting to go back to the gym and thinking about routes and wanting to solve those problems.”
The club is planning to begin competing in rock climbing before the end of the school year. If you’re thinking about rock climbing, the team says they should reach out to any members via email; Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Kiely at email@example.com or Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. They say they would love to enlist more members, especially women.
“I think this is a pivotal moment for the club. This time last year we weren’t around and now we’re actually gaining steam on campus,” Fox said.
The members encourage anyone to give the sport a shot at The District.
“You’re gonna surprise yourself with how far you’re gonna be able to get,” Kiely said. “The human body — when you use all of it together — can do some pretty amazing things you didn’t know you were capable of.”