An SIU student will go through 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell.
Jenny Paul, a doctoral student in zoology from Dallas, will climb thousands of feet Saturday in the rock- climbing competition, 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell, near Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Ark. Last year, more than 250 climbers competed in the event where participants try to scale as many different routes as they can in a 24-hour span.
This will be Paul’s third year in the competition.
“This competition is really cool because it is as much strategy as it is physical ability,” she said. “I look forward to it each year because climbing is why I was put on the planet. It’s why I wake up in the morning.”
Paul and her climbing partner — a longtime friend from South Carolina — will climb from 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday. She will try to complete as many different routes as possible in this time, with each route having an hour time limit. The harder the route is to climb, the more points it is worth. At the end, all of the climbers’ totals are tallied up and winners are named in different divisions.
“Hell began as a new concept to the world of climbing competitions where the preference is typically power, strength and technique,” Andy Chasteen, director of the competition, said in a press release. “It tests endurance, pain tolerance and mental stamina as you log continuous routes in a 24-hour timeframe.”
The last two years, Paul has placed fourth in her division. However, this year Paul said she will compete in the much more challenging advanced division that requires participants to complete 100 routes. Paul, who has been climbing for four years, said she began training for the event around six months ago. On campus, she participates in the SIU Climbing Club.
David Hug, president of the club, said around 30 climbers meet once a week at the Recreation Center’s rock wall year-round and also train at various parks across the region.
“The club is in place to grow the sport in southern Illinois,” said Hug, a senior from Waterloo studying forest recreation. “We have climbers ranging in ability from beginning to advanced.”
Paul said finding time to train can be difficult because of her work in the doctoral program. However, she said she is confident that come Saturday, she will be ready.
“I’m having to juggle school and this competition,” she said. “I know that even if I haven’t trained as much as I would have liked, I am pretty strong-willed and I know I can power through.”
Paul said the competition is extremely exhausting and grueling, but the feeling she gets after it’s over is worth it.
“After I get done and I come back and have a bunch of homework to do and it seems like too much, I just think, ‘I just climbed for 24 hours. If I can handle that, I can handle anything.’ School doesn’t seem like such a challenge any more.”