New bouldering wall on campus

The bouldering wall isn't up yet, but keep an eye out on your emails for updates! | PC: Zach Morrison

The bouldering wall isn't up yet, but keep an eye out on your emails for updates! | PC: Zach Morrison

Some of us may remember in August a space next to the Campus Store was under construction. It’s been coming together gradually, but many may still be unsure what this space is for. I’ll put your mind at ease: Union College is almost finished with a bouldering wall!

To get a feel of what the student body thinks about this new addition, I interviewed a few of you.

Senior history education major Hailey McIntosh commented, “I think it’s cool, but it seems a bit small. I don’t think people would be able to go very high.” I asked her if she would try it out to which she responded, “I’m actually terrified of heights, so maybe, maybe not. We’ll see.”

I also asked junior nursing major Kasondra Reel for her thoughts on the subject and she replied, “I love the idea of a bouldering wall. From what I’ve heard from former students in years past, the previous IRR bouldering wall was absolutely the chillest hangout, so it's nice to finally have one again to kind of have a place where people with that interest can hang out. I’m definitely going to try it.”

In talking to more people around campus about what they thought regarding the new bouldering wall, and receiving varied opinions, I couldn’t help but get the impression that the distinction between bouldering and rock-climbing was vague to some.

According to, bouldering is rock climbing stripped down to its raw essentials. In other words, it’s pure rock climbing without ropes and harness, and just using climbing shoes and a bag of chalk over safety mats. The technicalities of harnesses, helmets, ropes and other equipment are left in the arena of rock-climbing.

The reason there isn’t as much safety equipment needed for bouldering is because it’s a low-risk sport, and no one’s feet will be further than three feet off the ground.

For the bouldering enthusiast, and the average student (such as myself), here are details about the bouldering wall brought to you by IRR Director Rick Young. The wall is expected, for sure, to open after Thanksgiving break—in other words, the day isn’t solidified, but it could be any day now. Only a lighting system remains needing installation.  

Bouldering hours will be from seven a.m. to midnight. A student ID scanner will allow students to freely access the wall during open hours. However, students must first go through a brief training course before being signed-off to climb.

An instructor will be present for a span of four hours, from six to ten p.m., and will give the training course to those who are new. As for climbing shoes and chalk, the school is looking to implement a system where one could order both from the campus bookstore. The wall is meant for recreational use by Union College students.

However, should popular demand arise, the school may charge a small fee for public use—Young said maybe something around $5.

Through an email interview with Dr. Linda Becker, she explained before the IRR program migrated from the police station location to where it currently resides, there was a bouldering wall. After IRR moved, the bouldering wall disappeared due to the police station. This transition took place three years ago, and two student senators stepped forward shortly after who wanted to make a change: Kyle Illio and Makenzy Jean, now alumni.

Graduated theology major Jean shared, “The idea that our school didn’t have diverse recreational facilities didn’t feel right; it didn’t sit well with me. At the same time, my friend Kyle Illio and I were talking about the subject, and Kyle told me how it upset him the rock wall was taken away because of the newly acquired police station.”

He elaborated, “We decided to collaborate on this project to bring back something taken away from the students. We were nervous at first but with a little encouragement from Dr. Becker and Mr. Young we decided to move forward with our endeavor.”

Together with the Recreational Committee and Senate they made decisions to where the wall would be located and how to raise funds; the project would cost around $115,000.

Now through fundraising, private donations and careful planning (read: it didn’t come from your tuition), the project is finally coming to fruition. All this to say, if you have an idea then take it to Senate!

Sean Hendrix is a senior studying biomedical science.