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UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

Dedicated mountaineers form rock climbing club

While most student-athletes are engaging in routine practices on the courts and fields around campus, the UNF Rock Climbing Club is reaching new heights at the South Metro YMCA a few miles away from campus.

“I’m always at the gym,” said Artie Littlefield, the first-year president of the club. “I basically live at the gym because climbing is such a big part of my life. Being president of the club adds to that fun. It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Even though the club was started only three semesters ago, the UNF climbers are already placing at high-level competitions all over the country. At a University of South Florida tournament at Vertical Ventures in Tampa, Feb. 6, Littlefield placed third. And they already have their sights on nationals.

As a member of the Collegiate Climbing Series’ Florida division, the club participates in competitions every other week against big-name colleges all over the state, like the University of Florida, Miami and Central Florida. But in addition to these local competitions, the climbers also participate in out-of-state tournaments.

The next one is in Alabama next month, but all the preparation is going toward their second nationals that will take place in Austin, Texas on the weekend of May 22.

“I would like to see the club grow and expand,” Littlefield said. “Getting more interested in the club is important because we get a lot of people who love to try it and come for a few weeks but then we never see them again. We are trying to keep the rate of people coming to the rate of people staying. Going on road trips usually gets them hooked. Ninety percent of the people who go on the trips usually keep climbing.”

Right now the club has three openings left for students to attend the CCS Nationals. They are trying to recruit by word of mouth, but Littlefield is also hoping to get a rock climbing wall out on the green to bring more awareness to their club.

 The club currently has 30 members, but there’s only about five of them who participate competitively, said Dan Connell, the club’s secretary and treasurer.

 The have official practices twice a week, but the serious climbers come about four times a week, Connell said.

But for those who are competing in the collegiate series, they prepare themselves for every possible type of climb and analyze every movement from the moment their feet leave the ground until their fingers reach the top.

 “We have to be prepared for any style of climbing,” Connell said. “This past competition, for example, was a bouldering competition. There are no ropes involved, you climb about ten feet high, and it’s mainly an inverted climb. You are judged on the difficulty of the routes you complete and how many falls happen before you complete it. Points are deducted per fall.”

 In addition to bouldering competitions, the UNF climbers compete in anything from the traditional top-roping climbs to lead climbing where a rope set to a fixed length attached two people together.

 The club has no problem finding adventurous terrain to climb and competitions to participate in this semester. Like most clubs on campus, the problems come down to funding. The trips aren’t too expensive, but they do depend on UNF Student Government for financial support, Littlefield said.


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