Aidan Denny quickly ascends halfway up his route, latches onto any crevice or crack that he can and relies on his grip and legs to hoist him up the artificial mountain face. When Denny can’t quite reach a hold in the surface, he falls — without a rope. Unscathed, Denny hops back up, rethinks his strategy and finishes the 20 foot route in record timing. This is what competition is to Denny.
Denny — sophomore and president of the Rock Climbing team — first learned to rock climb when he was in middle school at a summer camp but became more serious about the sport his senior year of high school. When he came to Trinity, he met a co-founder of the climb team, junior William Skinner, and immediately connected with the group.
Skinner, former Climbing Team president, had three things in mind when he started the club with his friend, Ty Tinker.
“Involving students with serious academic commitments into a sport that is competitive but not as serious as a varsity sport. Developing a community that shares a love for the outdoors and rock climbing. Giving students a chance to explore a new and emerging sport,” Skinner wrote in an email interview
This year, Denny plans to expand on the team through partnering with Trinity’s Outdoor Recreation group (OREC) on trips and by organizing more competitions.
“Now that the club’s growing, I want to start going to more competitions, maybe three or four a semester,” Denny said.
Two weeks ago, The climb team went on their first group trip to Reimers Ranch Park, using OREC’s climbing gear. They’re planning another team trip later in the semester.
“We went to Reimers Ranch. I think it’s a state park; it used to be privately owned that has a whole bunch of rock climbing on limestone like thirty foot faces. That was just our team and we’re trying to recruit new people so there were about 10 new people,” Denny said.
This semester, the climb team has combined efforts with OREC, becoming an subgroup of it to make gear sharing more efficient. Declan Kiely, junior and treasurer of the climb team, is excited about the opportunities, partnering with OREC will bring to the climbing team and OREC members.
“We technically became a part of OREC for funding purposes and organizational purposes because they kind of organize the same type of trip formats that we do. An interesting example of that is last Saturday there’s a trip to Pace Bend. The water level was not where we thought it was so the climbing’s a little harder and the walls are a little longer so OREC actually asked me and Aidan to go on the trip to help people climb,” Kiely said.
When the team is not preparing for a group trip, Kiely enjoys the informal nature of the team practices.
“We have a group chat and whenever someone is going climbing we just send it in the group chat and then anyone else who wants to come comes. As well as being a community organization – getting people climbing outside and get people organized – it also serves as a way to find other people to climb with,” Kiely said.
In addition to outdoor trips, competitions and practices, the team hopes to begin community events
“I envision like movie views and stuff that are climbing related or outdoor related. I want to have some aspect of it that’s not just climbing. Climbing’s not easy; it’s easy to pick up and it’s easy to get into it as a beginner but it’s still a lot of work. And it’s sometimes nice to have that community event where we’re not sweating, you know have it be a comfortable chill event,” Kiely said.
Kiely enjoys the kind of climbing that his team practices and competes in: bouldering. He thinks the mental aspect of climbing is the most valuable part.
“We refer to individual routes as projects, so it’s like doing some type of project or problem with your body, so it’s problem solving with your body. So you’re on this wall and you have to figure out how to get up this wall in the most efficient way possible, as fast as you can so you don’t get too tired and fall off. So I like that mental aspect of it,” Kiely said.
The climb team will have a competition off-campus on Oct. 20. There is also an outdoor climbing trip planned for Nov. 1. Contact Denny to see if scaling rocky walls is the thing for you.