“I Like That Boulder, That is a Nice Boulder.”
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you’re dangling from a rock and your fingers slowly begin to slip, until finally you descend through the air and a twitch in your sleep triggers you to wake up? Some may call it a nightmare while others call it a thrill. For the Outdoor Adventures Club, this dream came true on Saturday, September 7th, when the club embarked on a journey to McAfee’s Knob to dangle from boulders and enjoy breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains.
Bouldering is essentially rock climbing’s sister, except without the harnesses and ropes, easily grasping crevices, or leverage given by a belay. This extreme sport depends upon the mind and strength of the climber who eventually gets stronger and more experienced over time. Boulder climbers have to be observant and patient while scaling a rock. They depend upon the power in their fingers and toes to search for tiny cracks and gaps on the boulder beneficial for hoisting themselves even further up the enormous rock. Sounds easy, right? You’d be surprised at the difficulty it took in-shape Roanoke students to scramble their way up the Mickey Mouse Boulderâ€”the first rock OA climbed on the trail.
With a padded falling mat in hand, climbing shoes on their feet, and chalk remnants dusted on their hands, the members of OA were given two simple rules to follow. Number one, always have three people spotting the person climbing; and number two, if the person falls, don’t catch them but rather push them onto the padded falling mat located underneath the area of the climber. After these rules were given, the members were released and, soon enough, turned into monkeys climbing any part of the boulder they wished.
The students approached the rock in completely opposite ways. Some started on the expert level where they began at the very bottom of the boulder and scaled their way up while others took the simpler approach and attacked the rock from any angle they desired. Regardless of how the person began their climb, the group of students all presented teamwork by talking the climber through which cracks to grasp and where to place their limbs in order to successfully conquer the rock. The reward for the effort was the stunning view of the rolling Appalachian Mountains seen from atop the boulder.
Some people succeeded, others failed, some got stuck, and certain people dangled most of the time. However, the end result was the same for everyoneâ€”smiles on their faces and scrapes on their hands. The trip was a huge success in teaching students a new way to climb and getting them to appreciate the great outdoors. The next opportunity to embark on one of the Outdoor Adventure Club’s trips is Saturday, September 14th for a hike in the Cascades or Sunday, September 15th for kayaking at James River.