Rutgers rock climbing team teaches students physical skills


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Photo by Marielle Sumergido |

The Rock Climbing Team is different than most teams on campus, said Robert King, president of the climbing team and a School of Engineering junior.

“What makes us different is that we have a lot of camaraderie. Sports climbing isn’t really something a lot of people have done growing up. It’s a brand new experience for a lot of people. A lot of people join our team with no experience at all,” King said.

Most of the training takes place on the wall, he said. About 75 percent of the training include tasks like climbing and drills on the wall. The other 25 percent of the training is conditioning, which involves floor routines like abdomen exercises and push-ups.

But there are no physical demands to be on the team, King said. There are no tryouts, and the team is open to all.

“A lot of people think that you have to be some big strong person to climb, but some of the best climbers in the world are very small people. It’s not really about how strong you are. It’s mostly about technique,” King said.

The team is split up in two different types. There is the competition team and the recreation team, he said.

The competition team is for people who are more serious, experienced and want to compete against other people in competition, King said. The recreation team is for people who want to get to know people on the team and other climbers, develop as a climber and improve at the sport.

The team participates in competitions around New Jersey and has participated in other states as well.

There are three types of climbing disciplines you can get involved with during competitions, King said.

There is top rope which is when a participant is tied in and tries to climb to the top of a rock wall. There is bouldering where a participant is not tied in but the wall is shorter and they are climbing over mats. Then there is speed climbing where the climber tries get to the top of a wall as quickly as possible, he said.

Each climb is then ranked based on the wall's difficulty and is awarded a certain amount of points. An individual's top three climbs determine their score for that competition, he said. The person with the highest score wins the competition.

The Rutgers climbing team competes mainly in the spring, King said

They are part of the Collegiate Climbing Series (CCS), King said. During the spring 2015 season the team went to the national competition for the first time and earned seventh place, ranking second in the region.

Like other climbing teams in its league, all of the team members have grown a lot since they started, King said. There are about 45 active members on the team. 

The Northeast region of the CCS is the largest group in the nation with more than 190 members in each competition, he said. These teams come from other institutions including Princeton University, Yale University, Cornell University and West Point.

Lindsey Zanzalari, a captain on the team and a School of Management and Labor Relations junior, said she started rock climbing his freshman year, saw the club and decided to give it a try.

Zanzalari said her favorite part of being a member is the bonding experience that comes with it. Some of her favorite memories involve spending time with her teammates during and outside of practice.

Joe Duncan, the team treasurer and a School of Engineering junior, said he saw the club at the involvement fair during his sophomore year. He observed their practices, liked what he saw and decided it was a good fit.

Duncan said he hopes to improve his climbing skills and wants to build more friendships with the people around him.

One of his favorite things is to see how a person tracks his or her progress and improvement over time. His best memory is seeing the team supporting each other and helping everybody else improve.

"It's just a really fun thing to do," King said. "It's exciting, it's challenging, it's a great way to challenge yourself."

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Christopher Bohorquez is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @c_bo_sauce.


Christopher Bohorquez

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