Club climbs across the country

By Aidan Osborne, Daily Egyptian

While some SIU students went home for break, 32 members of the SIUC Climbing Club went on a 1,700-mile excursion to climb and camp Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas for a week. The club left on March 6 and returned Sunday. Red Rock Canyon is one of America’s premiere climbing destinations, rivaled by places such as Yosemite National Park.

This is the second year the club has ventured to Red Rocks for its annual spring break trip, said the club’s president Nick Edwards. The club members’ dues pay for the trip each semester.

Each morning, climbers would wake up at sunrise and get ready for the day. They would pack everything they needed—food, water and climbing gear—into a backpack. Groups of climbers would then congregate based on which area they wanted to climb. The gear and people were loaded into cars and parted ways for the day.


Once the vehicles left the campsite, they drove to their destination located somewhere in the 13 mile scenic loop in Red Rock Canyon, or in the nearby Calico Basin. The cars were unloaded, and the hike to the climbing areas began.  The hikes at times were more difficult than the climbing routes themselves, and could take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to complete.

Upon arrival at the climbing area, bags were unpacked, ropes were unraveled, and shoes and harnesses were put on. The climbing began. Depending on the number of routes in that location, the actual climbing could take anywhere from half an hour to an entire day.  

The park boasts more than 2,000 climbing routes, which attract climbers from around the United States and the world.

“The area is so diverse with its climbs, it makes sense to go there. There is something for everyone,” said Edwards, a junior from Moline studying business management. “If we were to go to places like Moab or Zion, there is too much ‘trad’ climbing, and most people in club sport climb.”

“Trad,” or traditional climbing, is when a climber uses a route that has no formal protection on it. As the climbers progress up the route, they place pieces of safety gear in cracks and holes in the wall to catch them if they fall. Sport climbing routes have bolts that are placed five to 10 feet apart, which the climbers clip into as they pass using quick draws. Quick draws are two carabineers that are connected by a nylon strap. One carabineer is clipped to the bolt in the wall, and the other is clipped to the rope.

Of the 32 climbers that went on the trip this year, only eight were returning members.

“I don’t know exactly why we have so many more people this year, but I believe they’re all true climbers at heart that want to see themselves progress,” Edwards said. “This is a unique trip that offers climbers a different way to experience a beautiful place, and a way for them to become more confident in their abilities.”


Climbing club meets at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the rock-climbing wall in the Recreation Center.