Up Up and Away
October, 2011 - Article by Aaron Cress
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Ever wish you could have class outside when it’s a nice day? Some classes, such as UNC Charlotte’s Rock Climbing class, do just that, taking at least two class trips to Crowders Mountain, which is an excellent location for learning how to rock climb only 35 miles southwest of UNCC. After half a semester of training on UNCC’s indoor climbing wall, it is time to head out and let everyone test their abilities. This test is far more enjoyable than the SAT, and comes with a view! The phrase “Challenge by Choice” is frequently repeated in the class to remind everyone to push themselves and not compare their own ability to that of others. The class is mainly about self-improvement and learning how to work with small groups. Working as a team is very important when climbing, as you must trust another individual to hold you up when you fall.

After a short hike up the mountain, the anchors were set and it was time to climb. The routes ranged from forty to eighty feet high and offered several different types of challenges. From crack climbing to overhangs, Crowders offers a challenge to climbers at all levels. One of the more memorable climbs is called “The Caterpillar” a crack roughly three feet wide and eighty feet deep. This is unlike something you would ever see at an indoor climbing gym. With very few good hand and foot holds, this climb requires a very physically demanding technique. At first the technique requires careful balance, but in the end, endurance turns out to be the most important quality. All of this is happening under the added pressure of a potentially harmful fall is any mistake is made. All of this struggle is worth it when you reach the top of the mountain, with a phenomenal view of downtown Charlotte and the open sky. At this time of year, the leaves were beginning to change and cool air was blowing. It’s enough to help the climber forget about the mental and physical strain for just a moment—a moment full of accomplishment and solitude. But this moment is fleeting, and the climber quickly grasps the reality of having to begin the climb back down.

Whether or not you gain anything physically, you are sure to leave the mountain with the feeling of mental accomplishment from reaching the top.

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Caption:Bradley Harrison looking up as he reaches the top of the belayed climb at clowders mountian.--Photo by: Aaron Cress--