In an effort to increase interest in rock climbing, the Outing Club managed to bring a bouldering wall to the University. It's 40 feet long. It's 10 feet high. And it's coming to Gimbel Gymnasium. Through the efforts of the Outing Club, members of the University community will soon have the luxury of spending their free time working out on a new bouldering wall. The wall, scheduled to be built by early next semester, will enable anyone from novices to jocks to get a feel for the fast-growing sport of rock climbing, a sport Outing Club Vice President John Boschetti describes as "addicting." The wall's plywood face will be textured to simulate actual rocks and fitted with movable "holds" to accommodate various levels of difficulty. Most of the wall will overhang anywhere between 10 and 30 degrees past vertical. Recreation Director Mike Diorka called the project "exciting" and "novel." His department pledged $5,000 towards the effort, which also received $2,000 from the Student Activities Council and $1,000 from the Outing Club. Boschetti, an Engineering sophomore, initiated the project because he felt he and other Outing Club members should have a benefit enjoyed by most other college outing clubs -- their very own on-campus bouldering wall. Currently, University students with an interest in climbing have to travel about a half-hour to Cherry Hill, N.J., and pay $10 for the use of the rock gym there. Boschetti and the club originally planned for a smaller wall paid for and used only by the club. All the group needed was a location -- and funds. The club's idea caught the attention of Diorka and snowballed from there. But success came only after dealing with a thick web of bureaucratic red tape and what seemed like endless money hassles. Since his first appearance before the Tangible Change Committee last semester, Boschetti has had to meet with both members of the Risk Management Department and University lawyers. Although SAC Chairperson and Wharton senior Steve Schorr felt the wall should be funded solely by Recreation, he conceded that there was "a need for more equipment" and that "students should enjoy" a new wall. Boschetti believes the approval is proof positive of the sport's growing popularity. "When [students] hear about free climbing, they're like, 'Where? When?' They're automatically interested," he said. During the long struggle to get the project approved, Boschetti and the other club members remained upbeat. "We've faced about 20 obstacles but we just went all balls out," he said. According to Ben Smith, an Engineering senior and the Outing Club's president, the club's avowed purpose is to "get out of the city as much as possible." He also said the club is an excellent resource for those hoping to meet people with similar interests. Smith hopes the adventure does not end with the wall's Gimbel premiere. "I see this as a first step toward building interest," he said. Boschetti also sees an eventual rock climbing boom -- "in 10 years from now, it'll be huge," he said. For more on the outing club see http://dailypennsylvanian.com/webextra.htmlComments powered by Disqus
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