Climbing Club Nationals 2017

Student hanging off an indoor climbing wall

By Claire Meaney, Climbing Wall Staff Member and Climbing Club Member

This year, Temple Climbing Club branched out to compete in more local competitions, and even took on a new challenge of competing at a national level. This culminated in the club sending eight students to USA Climbing Collegiate Nationals in San Diego at the end of April. Despite having never competed in the national circuit before, Temple University Climbing Club managed to place 14th out of 59 collegiate teams.

Participants in the competition competed in three disciplines: bouldering, sport climbing, and speed climbing. In bouldering, the climber attempts to get as high up a route as possible without the security of a rope or harness. But don’t worry; pads line the floor for climbers to fall on instead. Bouldering is judged by the difficulty of the individual routes that the climbers attempt. Sport climbing too, is judged based on difficulty. However, sport climbing is done on taller walls and the climber is secured by a rope and harness. The climber clips the rope into spots on the wall as they go so they will be caught at that spot if they fall. Speed climbing is on the taller walls, like sport climbing, but the route is standardized and is set as a race. Temple students competed in the bouldering and sport climbing disciplines.

One of the members who helped spearhead the trip to nationals and make it a reality was rising senior Zoe Steinberg, an nationally and internationally ranked rock climber and current Temple University student. Out in San Diego, Zoe managed to fight her way to first place in the bouldering category. We recently sat down with her to talk about the trip out west, her personal climbing goals, and her hopes for the future of Temple University Climbing Club.

Leading up to the competition, all of the students, Zoe included, had to juggle training, homework, and the approach of finals as the semester was wrapping up. “I think in the week leading up to [the competition], I had managed to get about six hours of sleep total, and I was definitely starting to feel the effects of that. It was a toss-up between feeling like I had the ability to perform really well and wondering if I would be too exhausted to climb at the level I would usually be able to,” Zoe admitted of the experience. On top of all of the above, Zoe also had to balance working in a lab on campus and her coaching job at a local rock gym. Despite that, Zoe sailed through qualifiers and into finals with her confidence growing, especially as she started working through the third and final problem of the finals round.

“I knew going into the third climb that nobody had done it, and when I got to the top sequence and realized I’d be able to do it, I was really psyched. It’s a great feeling to do a climb that hasn’t been done yet in a comp, especially when a big, excited crowd is pushing for you to do it,” Zoe explained, going on to talk about how the relaxed atmosphere really added to the experience. Many of the climbers at the competition had friends coming from other schools, so much of the qualifying round was spent catching up with friends and projecting climbs together.

The competition season is largely over for the summer and Zoe’s sights are set on new goals for the time being, including traveling to South Africa to climb during the summer. She also plans to climb in West Virginia in the fall when the outdoor climbing season hits full swing again. As for next year’s competition schedule, Zoe’s still undecided as to what she wants to focus on. “I may try to stay a little more local and train specifically for nationals at the end of the winter, but it’s too early to tell yet.”

Temple University Climbing Club’s goals, however, are a little more settled. With the new climbing wall opening in the STAR Complex at the beginning of the semester, the club will be able to start the year off training on new walls and climbs in a fresh space. Everyone is excited for the possibilities at next year’s competition. “I think everyone who went out this year really enjoyed the experience, both competing for Temple at a high-level event as well as traveling and hanging out with other members of the club in this kind of setting. The tentative goal would be to have fifteen club members competing next year,” she said, explaining that fourteen club members had expressed interest in going this year. The club hopes to start fundraising for collegiate nationals again at the beginning of the Fall 2017 semester.