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On High

FitRec’s climbing wall: a new view of BU

It’s hard to miss the climbing wall at BU’s Fitness and Recreation Center — the 35-foot mock rock is at the very center of the building and spans two full floors. It’s impressive, imposing — and for first-timers, just a little bit intimidating.

“I think people think climbing is a lot harder than it is, especially when they see a lot of good climbers,” says Simon Anderson (SED’07), a FitRec climbing instructor. “People might assume that they couldn’t do it, but I don’t think that’s the case.”

Anderson is a good example — he started climbing just a year ago, when FitRec opened, and now teaches classes throughout the summer and fall. There are several ways for students, faculty, and staff to get started on the wall, according to Anderson, and all of them are perfectly safe. “Climbing isn’t dangerous,” he says, “if you’re smart and aware.”

The easiest way to get comfortable with the wall is to try bouldering, a low-height version of climbing that restricts users to the wall’s boulder-shaped structure or the lowest level of the wall. No instruction or ropes are required for bouldering, although climbing shoes must be checked out from the pro shop, and a spotter is recommended.

For full use of the climbing wall, climbers have to pass a belay qualification and safety test, where they’ll be asked to demonstrate knot-tying, belaying, harness use, and climbing commands. Conveniently, these skills are all taught in the introductory rock-climbing classes, which more than 850 people have taken since the center opened in May 2005. Classes begin in late September and run throughout the fall semester.