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Campus Life + Sports

Why They Climb

Best in sports: FitRec rock climbing instructors take on Whitehorse Ledge

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In the video above, Peter Stetson (CAS’08) and climbing partner Matthew Smith (CFA’08) take viewers up the Children’s Crusade rock face.

Boston University had its share of big sports winners this past year, and BU Today covered it all. We had stories about athletes breaking records, winning trophies, even going pro. But many of our favorite sports stories are quieter, smaller in a way, more inward, about personalities and quirks and challenges that don’t usually make headlines. Those are the ones we thought we’d return to this week: remarkable athletes in more intimate contexts.

Two months after breaking his foot on El Capitan, a formidable 3,000-foot rock face at Yosemite National Park, Peter Stetson (CAS’08) ventured back out with climbing partner Matthew Smith (CFA’08). Stetson, climbing instructor at Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation Center (FitRec), and Smith, FitRec coordinator of rock climbing, took on the Children’s Crusade wall at Whitehorse Ledge in North Conway, N.H.

“I consider climbing a meditative activity,” Smith says. “You have to focus intently on what you’re doing, so you can eliminate all of your other thoughts.” Stetson adds, “When you’re standing on top of what you thought there was no way you could do, when the risks were high, it’s one of the most satisfying things in the world.”

Although like most climbers Stetson and Smith prefer to climb outdoors, they say that climbing at FitRec’s Barreca Climbing Wall is a convenient and weatherproof alternative. It’s also a great way for beginning climbers to learn the ropes, so to speak.

“I enjoy teaching,” says Stetson, who leads the instruction in the Rock Climbing Endurance Training and Intro to Rock Climbing classes at FitRec. “It allows me to share the excitement that I get when I climb and share that same sense of, wow, I just did something I didn’t think I could do.”

Smith says that students can contact him directly to inquire about available spots. To register for classes, visit the FitRec Web site.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

This story originally ran November 3, 2008.

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