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Students come together to form rock-climbing club on campus

<p>Justin Lamarche, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, climbs the 25-foot rock wall at the College Avenue Gymnasium.</p>

Justin Lamarche, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, climbs the 25-foot rock wall at the College Avenue Gymnasium.

Rutgers students can now join a team of like-minded companions in tackling the 25-foot rock-climbing wall located on the College Avenue campus.

The Rutgers Climbing Team was established in Sept. 2013 and is a recreational club sport set to launch in the spring of 2014.

Anne Kavalerchik, president of the Rutgers Climbing Team, said the purpose of the organization is simply to create a community of climbers.

“The rock wall has been around for a really long time but there’s never been any kind of organization at Rutgers for just rock climbers,” said Kavalerchik, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

She said she began climbing when she was thirteen.

“I was kind of in between sports and then my mom signed me up for a mini-camp program at the New Jersey Rock Gym,” she said. “I did that mini-camp, then I took classes and then eventually I joined the youth-climbing team at the gym.”

The team practices on a weekly to bi-monthly basis at the College Avenue Gymnasium, she said. They are due to present a proposal that would allow them to regiment a standard schedule and get officially approved.

She said the team has participated in one competition, called “The Brawl,” at the New Jersey Rock Gym.

Justin Lamarche, vice president of the Rutgers Climbing Team, said he enjoyed the competition.

“It was one of the most fun times I’ve had climbing in a long time,” he said.

Lamarche, like Kavalerchik, said he began climbing at a young age. He grew up near well-known climbing clubs in New York.

“Climbing gets really hard really quickly,” Lamarche said. “If you want to climb hard you have to really practice your technique and really stay in shape for it. The climbing team has been a good way to develop that technique, especially for people that are just starting out.”

Kavalerchik said the team has members with a large range of experience. A good number of climbers have a good amount of experience and others join to try climbing for the first time.

She expects the number of members to increase in the next semester.

“We’re expecting to have about 40 members in total, with half being competitive and half being non-competitive,” she said.

The team plans to attend two local competitions in New Jersey for the next semester, Kavalerchik said.

She said the competitions the team plans to compete in include the regional championships in New York and the Collegiate Climbing Series, a competition hosted by USA Climbing, the organization that oversees all competitive climbing in the country.

Other events include outdoor climbing trips once the weather warms up, she said.

Dylan Frost, a graduate student, is a general member of the team that has been climbing for the last year and a half.

He said he found his interest in rock climbing with Northeast Mountain Guiding, an outdoor instructional company in Holmdel, N.J.

“Unlike a lot of other sports, rock climbing doesn’t really have a body type,” he said.

Professional rock climbers can have heights and weights that vary drastically, yet their skill levels will show virtually no difference, he said.

Frost said climbing is an appealing sport because it does not have a physical paradigm for what types of people are encouraged to join, although there are considerations to keep in mind when starting to climb.

“It’s a slow uptake sport,” he said. “There’s a lot of time where you have to build up to get to a decent level, but I’m happy I got introduced to the sport.”

Although the team has already mapped out plans for the next several months, the biggest issue is still focusing on getting approved by the University, Kavalerchik said.

“The team is just starting,” said Lamarche. “This is the first year that we have a climbing team, so just starting it is an accomplishment as far as climbing at Rutgers goes.”

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