Monday, September 21, 2015

5 Parks, 5 Months

Photo: John Colby
“There is nothing so American as our National Parks. The scenery and the wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of the great human principle.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt, August 5th, 1934

These were the words delivered by the 32nd President of the United States during a radio address from a small cabin in Glacier National Park, Montana. His speech came at a time of major economic shift in the country as Roosevelt enacted his New Deal policy, which included a transfer of 56 national monuments and military sites from the Forest Service and the War Department to the National Park Service. Looking back, his vision to preserve our greatest natural playgrounds for future generations still stands as one of the best political decisions of all time, at least in my book.

For the past five months, I’ve had the chance to explore the American Southwest from an entirely new perspective. Having grown up in beautiful Northern California, I moved to the east coast in 2012 to study mechanical engineering in Boston at Northeastern University. One of the main attractions of Northeastern for me was their co-op program, which encourages their students to take part in six-month paid internships (co-ops) interspersed between years of school. For my most recent co-op, I landed a position at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California to work on the robotic arm of the 2020 Mars Rover.

Standing behind the desks of NASA Director Charles Bolden and JPL Director Charles Elachi at JPL Mission Control
Photo: Craig Martland
Working at JPL was one of the coolest experiences I can imagine. From an early age, I’ve been obsessed with space travel and the exploration of the universe, probably since I saw Star Wars for the first time. Contrary to what its name suggests, JPL does not build jet engines anymore, but instead is a federally funded NASA research center dedicated to the robotic exploration of space. JPL is responsible for sending the first-ever US satellite into orbit, landing rovers on Mars, and sending spacecraft farther into the outer reaches of the solar system than any other organization on Earth. Having the opportunity to be a part of history by contributing to the next chapter of human space exploration was truly out of this world.

Selfie with the Curiosity Mars Rover!
One of the best perks about being a JPL employee is that we got every other Friday off, given that we worked a minimum of 80 hours over two weeks. To take as much advantage as possible of these extended weekends, some of the other Northeastern co-ops and I decided to use the extra time to explore the nearby National Parks and really get a feel for one of the most scenic natural areas in the country. We ended up visiting five total parks, on average one park per month, starting with Joshua Tree and finishing with Yosemite.

The Valley!
This time period marked a major lifestyle change for me personally. With a background in competitive climbing, I’d become accustomed to a yearlong indoor training cycle with my primary focus being maintaining peak performance for each event and only getting outdoors when I had “free time”. Then, about a year ago, I tore my labrum in my left shoulder while climbing. After undergoing surgery to repair the tear in December, I found myself needing to to fill the void that climbing had left with another activity while I rehabilitated my shoulder. Hiking proved to be the perfect activity, as it combined a non-impactful lower-body workout with the ability to discover new areas with friends in the great outdoors.

At the top of San Gabriel Peak in Pasadena
Photo: Craig Martland
Now that I’ve had the opportunity to journey to these five magnificent parks, the next step is to share my experiences with you. Grab your hiking boots and plenty of food, water, and sunscreen, here are some tips to help you plan your perfect adventure in some of America’s greatest outdoor areas.

Park #1: Joshua Tree National Park



Overview:
As our first stop on this Southwest tour, Joshua Tree certainly has a lot to offer. From breathtaking vistas to windswept valleys, J-Tree is the ultimate desert hotspot for anyone looking to try out some hiking or climbing in a location straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Visitor’s Center Address:
6554 Park Blvd
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

Driving time from:
Los Angeles Area: 2 hours
San Francisco Bay Area: 8 hours
Phoenix: 3 hours
Las Vegas: 3 hours

Best time to visit:
October-April


Camping:
Cottonwood Campground includes a fire pit and access to a bathroom with running water with each site. If you’re lucky, you may run into fellow campers with stargazing telescopes who will let you take a peak through the lens at distant galaxies in the night sky. $20/night.

Recommended Hike:
Lost Horse Mine Trail (6.7 miles) offers an excellent and mostly flat tour around an old mine.



Points of Interest:
Mastodon Peak, Ryan Mountain, Cholla Cactus Garden

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/jotr.

Park #2: Grand Canyon National Park


Overview:
Described by Theodore Roosevelt as “The one great sight which every American should see”, there’s a reason why Arizona’s state nickname is ‘The Grand Canyon State’. Stretching over 277 miles in length, up to 18 miles wide and over 2,600 feet deep, The Grand Canyon truly earns its place as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Visitor’s Center Address:
Market Plaza Store
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

Travel time from:
Los Angeles Area: 7.5 hours
San Francisco Bay Area: 12 hours
Phoenix: 3.5 hours
Las Vegas: 2 hours

Best time to visit:
March-May or September-November

The Grand Canyon at Sunrise
Camping:
Mather Campground includes a fire pit and access to a bathroom with running water with each site. $18/night.

Recommended Hike:
Bright Angel Trail (12 miles) is the most iconic day hike into the Grand Canyon. Commencing at the canyon rim, the trail descends steeply for 4.5 miles before leveling off and leading to a scenic overlook of the Colorado River. CAUTION: Plan for at least 2-3 times as much time to ascend out of the canyon as it took you to descend, keeping in mind the total elevation drop of about 3000 feet. Bring plenty of water and electrolytes to avoid heat stroke.

Plateau Point on Bright Angel Trail
Points of Interest: Mather Point, Yavapai Museum of Geology, Desert View, Toroweep Overlook, Grand Canyon Train Depot.

Mather Point
For more information, visit www.nps.gov/grca.

Park #3: Death Valley National Park


Overview:
Located close the border of California and Nevada in the Mojave Desert, Death Valley the lowest, driest, and hottest place in North America. Far from being a deterrent, however, these distinguishing characteristics give Death Valley its signature desolate beauty and allow it to transport any visitor to another world with its supernatural landscapes. Here you can uncover the mystery of the Sailing Stones, stand 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin, and follow in the footsteps of your favorite Star Wars characters as you travel through iconic filming locations for Star Wars Episode IV.

Visitor’s Center Address:
Furnace Creek Visitor Center
Furnace Creek, CA 92328

Driving time from:
Los Angeles Area: 4.5 hours
San Francisco Bay Area: 8 hours
Phoenix: 7 hours
Las Vegas: 2 hours

Best time to visit:
February-April

Can you spot Brandon in this photo?
Camping:
Furnace Creek Campground includes a fire pit and access to a bathroom with running water with each site. $12/night from April 16 to October 14 (walk-ups), $18/night otherwise.

Recommended Hike:
Gower Gulch Loop Trail (6.7 miles) offers a stunning palette of desert scenery, complete with a gorgeous view from Zabriskie Point at the halfway mark. Don’t miss the Manly Beacon or the Star Wars scene-matching area at the beginning of the trail.


Points of Interest:
Zabriskie Point, The Red Cathedral, Badwater Basin Salt Flats, Dante's View, The Manly Beacon, assorted Star Wars filming locations, The Sailing Stones

Zabriskie Point
Badwater Basin (elevation: -282 feet)
For more information, visit www.nps.gov/deva.

Park #4: Sequoia National Park


Overview:
Home of the tallest trees on earth, Sequoia National Park certainly serves up a tall order when it comes to natural beauty. Sequoia boasts both a Tunnel Tree that you can drive through as well as the illustrious General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest living tree by volume. Additionally, Sequoia also features over 400,000 acres of vast alpine wilderness, 84% of which is only accessible by foot or horseback.

Visitor’s Center Address:
63100 Lodgepole Rd
Sequoia National Park, CA 93262

Driving time from:
Los Angeles Area: 3.5 hours
San Francisco Bay Area: 4 hours
Phoenix: 9 hours
Las Vegas: 6 hours

Best time to visit:
March-October


Camping:
Cold Springs Campground is first-come, first-serve, includes a fire pit at each site, and has access to a pit toilet. Use the bear lockers for any food items (including toothpaste). Potable water available: May 20 to October 13. $12/night.

Recommended Hike:
Eagle Lake Trail (6.4 miles) can easily be one of the most gratifying hikes you will do in your lifetime. Starting out at the base of Mineral King Valley, the trail ascends a ridge that takes you up into the Sierras with beautiful vistas of the Great Western Divide. After an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet, the trail deposits you at the mouth of emerald-green Eagle Lake, a glacial paradise that is perched on top of the 10,000-foot peak you just climbed.


Eagle Lake
Points of Interest:
General Sherman Tree, Moro Point, Grant Grove, Cedar Grove, General’s Highway

General Sherman Tree
Moro Peak
For more information, visit www.nps.gov/seki.

Park #5: Yosemite National Park


Overview:
Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just east of San Francisco, Yosemite is perhaps the most iconic National Park in the world. The raw natural beauty of the park paved the way for renowned explorer John Muir to help establish Yosemite Valley and its surrounding area as the 2nd-ever US National Park in 1890. Home to sheer granite cliffs such as El Capitan and Half Dome that attract climbers and visitors from all over the globe, Yosemite also hosts several spectacular waterfalls, massive sequoia groves, and a wide array of biological diversity. The park’s legacy has engrained itself into American culture, ranging from everything from the California State Quarter to the moniker behind Apple’s latest operating system, OS X. Yosemite is easily one of the top destinations to visit on earth.


Visitor’s Center Address:
Yosemite Valley Visitors Center
Yosemite Valley, CA 95389

Driving time from:
Los Angeles Area: 5 hours
San Francisco Bay Area: 4 hours
Phoenix: 10 hours
Las Vegas: 5.5 hours

Best time to visit:
Year-round!

Vernal Falls
Camping:
There are many places to camp in the park. The most historic place to camp would most likely be Camp 4, located near Yosemite Lodge. Listed on the National Record of Historic Places, Camp 4 is home to the world-famous Columbia Boulder and boulder problem Midnight Lightning, and is considered one of the birthplaces of modern-day rock climbing. Camp 4 has access to restrooms, running water, a bear locker, and comes with a fire pit at each site. $4/night.

NOTE: There is a 30-night camping limit within Yosemite National Park in a calendar year; however, May 1 - September 15, the camping limit in Yosemite is 14 nights, and only seven of those nights can be in Yosemite Valley or Wawona.

Recommended Hike:
Although the Yosemite Falls Trail (7.2 miles) certainly is not to miss out on, I’d recommend the Mist Trail (also known as the Half Dome Hike) as the must-do in The Valley. Starting at the base of Half Dome, you can choose to venture up to Vernal Falls (3 miles roundtrip), Nevada Falls (7 miles roundtrip), or hike the cables on the backside of Half Dome to the summit (14 miles roundtrip). The best time to view the waterfalls is in the springtime when the snow melts.
Both sets of falls are breathtaking, but the view off the top of Half Dome certainly takes the cake. If you are planning to hike Half Dome, you will need to secure permits to do so in the month of March or apply for a daily permit at least two days in advance.

Vernal Falls with the backside of Half Dome in the background
Bouldering on the Mist Trail
Photo: Matt Chua
Points of Interest:
Yosemite Falls, El Capitan Meadow, Glacier Point, Hetch Hetchy, Tunnel View, Tuolumne Meadows, The Awahnee Hotel, Mirror Lake

Tuolumne Meadows
For more information, visit www.nps.gov/yose.

Special thanks to Matt Chua, Amila Cooray, Craig Martland, Lucy Naslas, Brandon Smail, Stephanie Mitana, Dan LaChapelle, Annabelle Sibué, Luseny Palacios, Kate Zhou, and Nolan Ryan for contributing to these adventures.


Hopefully this guide to National Parks in the Southwest will inspire you to embark on your own journey into the amazing wilderness that we are so fortunate to have access to. If you are planning on visiting as many parks as I did, it is well worth purchasing a National Parks Pass that will grant you admission to all National Parks for one full year. As always, stay on the trail, respect all closures and wildlife, pick up all trash (even if it isn’t yours), and leave no trace. That way, future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors for years to come.

Friday, March 27, 2015

10 Tips for Creating a Successful Collegiate Climbing Team

Around this time of year 3 years ago, I went through the most nerve-racking, exhilarating, intense, emotional roller coaster of a ride imaginable. Nope, not talking about a climbing competition. I’m talking about college decisions. Alright, it wasn’t actually all that bad. But at the time, waiting to hear back from the universities I’d applied to by anxiously checking my email every three minutes seemed like a pretty big deal to me.
Still waiting for this letter.
When selecting colleges I wanted to apply to, I focused on schools that could offer a good mixture of what I was interested in: strong academic programs, high student involvement, opportunities to learn beyond the classroom, a beautiful campus, and of course a solid climbing community. Now that I’m nearly finished with my third year at Northeastern University, I can definitely say that attending college in the heart of Boston was one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve found unique ways to incorporate these factors into my life here, all while pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, competing in as many competitions as possible, and sport climbing at Rumney in the fall.
Livin' Astro 5.14c, Rumney, NH. Photo: Ian MacLellan
However, one of my biggest goals prior to embarking on my college career was to try to start a new climbing team to train with and compete in the USA Climbing Collegiate Climbing Series (CCS). At the time, few climbers that had graduated out of the youth competition scene had gone to compete in CCS, and it surprised me that there was such a severe drop-off after entering college. However, I think if enough youth climbers realize the benefits of continuing to climb at the university level, the sport will grow exponentially with these climbers stepping into leadership roles at their respective schools.
“I personally felt really grateful to be able to continue competing once I got to college, and I would like to see more youth competitors enter into CCS and have that same experience.”
-Will Butcher
Of the three levels of team sports available in most US universities, (intramural, club, or NCAA) competitive climbing is right in the middle as a club sport since it’s more competitive than intramurals, but not yet officially recognized by the NCAA. Before I arrived at Northeastern, there was no club sports climbing team in place, but I knew there were a lot of strong climbers who might be interested in forming a team.

Based on my experiences creating a climbing club in high school, I knew there would be a lot of unforeseen obstacles and pitfalls that come with the beginnings of any organization, but that it would all be worth it in the end. One of the biggest challenges right off the bat was overcoming the fact that Northeastern did not have a climbing wall on campus. On top of that, it was necessary to consider recruiting, fundraising, transportation to and from practices, catering to a wide range of abilities, eating and sleeping schedules, club hierarchy, sustainability, and balancing schoolwork and training schedules.
Fremont High School Bouldering Club at the 2011 Planet Granite Bloc Party Championships
Juggling all of these questions, myself and a couple other motivated climbers put together a proposal to Northeastern Club Sports and founded the Northeastern Climbing Team in the spring of 2014. We hosted tryouts and worked out a training schedule for a 12-person team at Central Rock Watertown. After a couple months of intense training, we won the New England Regional Championships and traveled to Florida to compete at the National Championships.

The competition itself was a blast; we got to compete in all three disciplines in qualifiers, meet a bunch of other climbers going to college all over the country, hang out on the beach, and even see a SpaceX launch off Cape Canaveral. When all was said and done, Northeastern placed 2nd! It felt great to see our hard work pay off with success, but the biggest takeaway was that it was the first time I’d ever really felt I was part of a real team since we all lived in the same place, trained and studied together, and encouraged one another in every aspect of our lives.
Northeastern Climbing team on the beach in Melbourne, Florida
After seeing what a positive effect creating a team had on my teammates, our student body, and myself, I realized that the community I’d helped develop was of far greater value than my own personal career. That being said, the process of getting the team off the ground and functioning was extremely challenging to say the least, and if I didn’t have the support of other friends and team members I have no doubt the club would have failed.

The Northeastern Climbing Team is just one of dozens of college teams across the country. In order to understand how other clubs with different approaches in organization function successfully, I reached out to some of the other top climbers at Collegiate Nationals and asked them to share experiences on creating a team as well as any advice they had for the process in general. Here are the athletes and the top 10 tips they came up with:
Will Butcher
UT Austin '14
Team National Champions, 2014 CCS Nationals
National Champion in Sport Climbing, 2014 CCS Nationals
Photo: Sapna Desai
Danny Aleksovski
UT Austin '14
Team National Champions, 2014 CCS Nationals
4th Place in Bouldering, 2014 CCS Nationals
Photo: Cole Alcock
Julian Barker
West Point '16
Finalist in Bouldering, 2014 CCS Nationals

Photo: Cole Alcock
Evan Goldfinger
Northeastern University '18
2nd Place Team, 2014 CCS Nationals
Finalist in Speed Climbing, 2014 CCS Nationals

Photo: Valery Notaro
Francesca Metcalf
Georgia Tech '15
National Champion in Bouldering, 2014 CCS Nationals

Photo: Cole Alcock
Andy Lamb
Stanford University '16
National Champion in Bouldering, 2014 CCS Nationals
Photo: Cole Alcock
Owen Graham
Colorado State University '14
3rd Place Team, 2014 CCS Nationals
2nd Place in Sport Climbing, 2014 CCS Nationals
Photo: Cole Alcock

1) Recruit early with freshmen, club fairs, & tryouts:

“Recruiting freshmen has been easiest, because when they arrive on campus they want to join an organization and get involved in something right away. Finding strong climbers is more difficult, but as the team starts to get more mature and more competitive, we have more interest from strong climbers and we can be more selective in admitting people to the team.”
-Will

“We found that hosting a tryout got people really psyched and motivated but it requires already having a decent amount of interest. Getting the word out at student organization fairs helped a lot for that.”
-Danny

“People aren't necessarily drawn to a page on a bulletin board that says, "Come join the team, it's fun!" They’re much more drawn to actual events. Something like a sort of tryout for the team, or a competition hosted in the campus wall if there is a wall is great to start.”
-Julian

Northeastern Climbing Team's booth at the 2014 Club Sports Fair
2) Work with your university to organize your club’s structure:

“I feel like starting the team went very smoothly for us. The biggest help was approaching club sports with an organized proposal and budget and explaining to them rock climbing as a whole, collegiate climbing, and the path of where competition climbing is going.”
-Evan

“We try to maintain a good relationship with the university. We became a sponsored sport club three years ago and now get a small amount of funding, advice on running our club, and get to represent the university. The director of the outdoor center at UT has also been a really big supporter of the team and has been our club's faculty advisor since we started. He also sets up cool events like Reel Rock screenings and athlete visits to campus.”
-Will

“As we started to try to expand the club, the first thing we realized is that people don't want what you would expect. Not all climbers want to go outside, some don't want to compete or train, some hate bouldering, some just want to hang out indoors with friends. Balancing this is a challenge, but you really just have to be flexible and open to new ideas and don't make the purpose of your club too well defined (i.e. “this club is for people who want to compete and nothing else”).”
-Francesca

Day 1 of Northeastern Climbing Team tryouts
3) Know your audience to retain student involvement:

“We always get a lot of people interested in the club at the beginning of the year, but participation tends to drop off really rapidly. It's a problem we're still trying to solve, but the main solution we've found is to get the new people involved immediately.”
-Francesca

“For me one of the biggest challenges is finding the right level of intensity. We only got started last year, and have never had tryouts. I guess the main reason is we didn't want to scare people away, especially before we actually had anyone committed to the team, and because we have a reasonably big gym on campus space wasn't too much of an issue.”
-Andy

“A huge step for us was knowing a lot of the school's climbing community already. We only started a month before nationals so getting immediate interest in the team was crucial.”
-Evan

Stanford Climbing Club social event on campus
4) Designate a solid leader or coach:

“Having a respectable coach and flexible practice times seems to be very important in college. Students are really busy so we host practices five days a week and have a minimum requirement for attendance.”
-Danny

“We have been really lucky to have [Collegiate Climbing Series Founder] John Myrick as our coach. Having a dedicated coach provides structure and cohesion and helps motivate people. A coach provides training instruction and people will listen to a coach more than they will to a peer. Having a coach who will stay with the team for several years is also really beneficial as it provides continuity for the club over time.”
-Will

“Once you have a solid group of people, you can work on things like recognition and funding by your school, and trying to find a "coach". This person can be a climbing instructor, or a teacher who likes to climb, or just someone who's interested in being an adult sponsor for the team. This can make logistics easier, especially for something like Nationals, where it's expensive to rent a car if you're under 21.”
-Julian

Coach John Myrick (front left) leading UT Austin to a 3rd-straight National Championship and tower-lighting ceremony

5) Find a place to train either on or off campus:

“Having a climbing wall on campus was also a crucial aspect in the formation of the team, although we don't use the wall often because it is way too small for our team (we go off campus to climb at gyms in Austin). The wall on campus created a community of climbers for the club to start from and ensure that there was already a close group of climbers to build a team around and help us attract new members. Everyone walks by the wall during their first week at UT and tons of people ask about the team when they see our banners in the gym.
-Will

“We soon realized that the rec center could not hold the number of climbers and it really was not challenging enough. We decided to move to a local gym where we worked a deal to let the team members in for $5 during practice time.”
-Owen

“In terms of actually running the team, I think that flexibility and structure are imperative. Having one or two days a week of mandatory practices, and then one or two more that are optional worked well.”
-Julian

“I've noticed having a wall on campus is a blessing and a curse: it's great to have practices be so easy to get to and not cost us money, but I think it prevents people from going to a real gym, which really limits their climbing.”
-Andy
Georgia Tech Climbing Club hosting a climbing competition on campus
6) Be creative with fundraising:

“Funding has actually gone pretty well for us. We're basically treated as a normal student group, so we need to make a budget and request the money. We're supposed to do "stewardship" hours for our funding, which is pretty easy work: writing postcards to alums, staffing Admit Weekend, taking pictures of the team practicing, etc. We also made some money staffing events at the climbing wall, which isn't too bad and pays well.”
-Andy

“As for making it an official university club, we made it a student organization after jumping through a few hoops, but we have got no funding. Large public universities are usually reluctant to pay out in the first few years. Smaller colleges have had better success with this. Our personal funding comes through annual student dues.”
-Owen

Colorado State University team photo
7) Plan transportation in advance:

“A definite recommendation is to start planning as far back as you can. As a team in the northeast, finding cheaper flights to nationals, especially on a college student budget, allows people to plan their expenses which hopefully leads to the whole team being able to go.”
-Evan

“If you want to attend nationals, you will make it happen. That was always my goal. We got to Nationals after a 30-hour drive in a 15-passenger van. It was not pretty, but we would not take it back for a second.”
-Owen

Northeastern Climbing Team's van at Rumney
8) Delegate out club responsibilities to ensure sustainability:

“Our club has nine officers who manage all club activities, plan competitions and volunteer events, collect dues, organize fundraisers, and do everything related to running the club. Having leadership roles on the team helps maintain structure and keeps a core group very involved in club activities, and they act as role models for the team. It gives officers good leadership experience and makes their time on the team more valuable.”
-Will

“I really have been working on is building the club to last. I have recruited new coaches to take over as I graduate this year. We also have built a reputation and name. Those things go far, because it is easy to start, but tough to keep alive.”
-Owen

“Some form of leadership over the team, like a captain, could be helpful. This person serves as a mentor for the rest of the team, someone other people on the team can talk to. He/she also tries to keep attendance at practices as high as he can, and acts as a liaison for planning between the team and the school, or the school and USA Climbing, and would deal with a lot of the funding issues and planning for trips. Assigning people jobs or roles on the team gives people a sense of responsibility and worth, and can make the captain's job easier as well.”
-Julian

UT Austin winning the 2013 CCS National Championships
9) Climb outdoors:

“We also made sure to do a few outdoor trips during the beginning of the semester when people aren't as busy or still aren't sure if they want to join the club. It makes them feel included and like they already have a group of friends they can climb with.”
-Francesca
Andy Lamb on the final move of Roses & Bluejays (V13), Great Barrington, Massachusetts
10) Build a strong community:

“Our team is extremely diverse, from beginners to climbers that have been in it for over 10 years. We also have every type of climber from boulderers to alpinists. You just have to embrace this as everybody can look to improve and find a community. The main goal of the team has always been to get climbers together and build a college community around it.”
-Owen

“One of the things my team does really well is that we're super tight knit. My team is far and away my closest group of friends, and we go out together, climb outside, party, play frisbee and volleyball, pretty much anything. That's definitely something that keeps the team running.”
-Julian

“Keeping people psyched is really important. We try to climb outdoors whenever we can. We try to make competing fun. There is tight knit community of climbers and we hang out, have parties, and have a banquet at the end of the year.”
-Will

Northeastern Climbing Team's 2014 Banquet

Hopefully these tips will serve as valuable guidelines for anyone looking to start up their own collegiate climbing team. One other idea that has proved helpful in the past was to reach out to other club sport teams similar to climbing such as swimming, biking, or triathlon to see what advice they have. This college development kit by USA Ultimate is an excellent resource that offers general recommendations for club startups of any sport. In addition, you can check out USA Climbing’s club sports proposal template here.

The future potential for climbing teams at the collegiate level is huge. If the sport grows enough, climbing has the possibility to become an NCAA sport, which would revolutionize the competition scene at every level. Competitive climbers graduating the youth circuit would be recruited at the National Championships by the top universities in the country with athletic scholarships, and would have access to some of the best athletic and academic facilities in the world.

This in turn would promote pursuing academic career paths in addition to a passion for climbing, as I believe climbers are some of the brightest and innovative athletes of any sport. If you think about it, climbing itself teaches independence, problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration to achieve goals. We have the skills necessary to approach a formidable project in any field, analyze it quickly, develop potential solutions, and execute with confidence. If these talents are put to good use, we have the ability to tackle the world’s most difficult challenges.

If you have any additional questions, please contact ccs@usaclimbing.org or visit www.usaclimbing.net/ccs for more information.