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. Â
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 Foxâ€™s suggestion.
â€œI already rock climbed so I told him to sign me up on the email list,â€ Kiely said. â€œAt their first meeting at the rock climbing gym, I just kind of showed up and then kept going a couple times a week.â€
Cline found out about the club from a Trinity Recreation Sportsâ€™ Instagram post.
â€œOne of those Instagrams advertised the Trinity Rock Climbing Team and I got so excited. I was like, â€˜Oh my goodness! Why have I never heard of this before?â€™â€ Cline said. â€œI just contacted them and said, â€˜Iâ€™m very interested. I love rock climbingâ€™ and they said, â€˜Great. Come on out to The District.â€™â€
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.
â€œItâ€™s a full-service bouldering gym. Itâ€™s just like boulder routes, thereâ€™s no rope climbing,â€ Fox said.
â€œTheyâ€™re strategic in their route-setting, so if youâ€™re climbing at a certain level, youâ€™re not going to be discouraged to get off the wall. Thereâ€™s usually some route at the gym that is fulfilling for you to climb and youâ€™re gonna be able to do it if you put enough â€” not even physical energy, but mental energy â€” to figuring out the route.â€
The distinction between rope climbing and bouldering is important.
Trinityâ€™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.
â€œBouldering really works for the team vision at this point. Itâ€™s really dynamic. Youâ€™re getting a great workout,â€ Fox said.â€œItâ€™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.â€
Bouldering offers a great full-body workout that differs from other forms of exercise in relation to intensity and environment.
â€œI always tell people itâ€™s like yoga on the rocks,â€ Cline said. â€œItâ€™s a full-body workout, but you usually donâ€™t get off the wall with heavy breathing.â€
â€œIt is probably the best full-body workout in a sport you can find and Iâ€™ve played sports my whole life,â€ Fox said.
In addition to all of the physical strength gained through climbing, the sport is mentally engaging as well.
â€œItâ€™s problem-solving on the wall with your body,â€ Kiely said.
Being physically fit is not enough to succeed at rock climbing.
â€œYou can be in the best shape of your life and still not be that good at rock climbing, â€™cause you have to get yourself in a state of mind where youâ€™re not afraid of heights. You are calm and relaxed; you know how to make the moves and where to make them,â€ Cline said.
Fox emphasizes how enjoyable the activity is.
â€œYou get out of it what you put into it,â€ Fox said.
â€œSo you can really take a deep dive into rock climbing and get obsessed with it really easily.
Itâ€™s really infatuating â€” wanting to go back to the gym and thinking about routes and wanting to solve those problems.â€
The club is planning to begin competing in rock climbing before the end of the school year. Â If youâ€™re thinking about rock climbing, the team says they should reach out to any members via email; Fox can be reached at email@example.com, Kiely at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cline at email@example.com. They say they would love to enlist more members, especially women.
â€œI think this is a pivotal moment for the club. This time last year we werenâ€™t around and now weâ€™re actually gaining steam on campus,â€ Fox said.
The members encourage anyone to give the sport a shot at The District.
â€œYouâ€™re gonna surprise yourself with how far youâ€™re gonna be able to get,â€ Kiely said. â€œThe human body â€” when you use all of it together â€” can do some pretty amazing things you didnâ€™t know you were capable of.â€