Climbing on campus: An environment for fitness and friends

How Trinity students have found activity and strength in local climbing

Characterized by Chaco tans and Patagonia shorts, Trinity’s rock climbers have found a way to keep themselves active outside of school-sponsored athletics.

Although nearly a quarter of Trinity students participate in a varsity sport, some need to find other ways to stay fit. For many, climbing is the perfect way to exercise without the time commitment of a varsity sport.

The two bouldering (climbing without ropes and harnesses) gyms in San Antonio, The District Bouldering and Armadillo Boulders, are both less than a five-minute drive from campus. Since both are open late into the night, students like sophomore JT Ahmann have found them to be a very convenient place to go after their schoolwork is done for the day.

“I usually go pretty late at night after all my work is done. I go for fun but sometimes I go just to blow off steam. It definitely helps when I’m frustrated,” Ahmann said.

Climbing hasn’t always been Ahmann’s athletic outlet. Before his departure during the spring season last year, he was a member of the cross country and track team at Trinity. After leaving, he needed something new to get the adrenaline rush he once felt when running, so over the summer, he turned to climbing.

“Finishing a project I’ve been working on for a while is the best feeling. It feels like a huge accomplishment. I feel so much better after going climbing both physically and emotionally,” Ahmann said.

First-year Trent Hamura credited part of his ability to stay active on campus to the diversity climbing offers.

“It helps me stay active by working my forearms, shoulders, back, chest and even legs to an extent. To climb efficiently, you need to know when to use which part of your body to help you move upward while still maintaining your grip on the rocks,” Hamura said.

Physical growth is just one benefit Trinity students seek from climbing. Mark Nichols, a senior and former climbing club president, has also used climbing as a way to keep himself active throughout the four years he’s been on campus. For him, it provides a challenge you can’t get from anything else.

“There’s something about the intersection between an extremely physical full body workout, and also the mental puzzle of thinking, ‘Which direction do I have to pull on this hold,’ and visualizing that process while you’re on the ground,” Nichols said.

Climbing isn’t all about staying active, however. College creates a new environment for students, especially in their social lives. For Nichols, climbing has provided him with a great group of friends with whom he shares a common interest.

“It’s been a really supportive community. Everyone’s super nice. Because it’s such an individual sport and there are no teams and rivalries, everyone just wants everyone else to do as best as they can. It’s a super supportive environment and it’s just been really good to me,” Nichols said.

The community aspect of climbing is what makes it so attractive to so many people.

“I started climbing because I had a lot of friends already doing it. Now, I’ve made new friends doing it and it gives me a great way to socialize with my friends,” Ahmann said.

In college, a place with so much stress and such a structured day, climbing provides a place to hang out with friends, get a workout in and relax on the crash pads in between bouldering “problems.”

As Ahmann put it, “Climbing gives me a place to let loose of everything going on at school and just unwind. It helps me be myself.”