Between a Rock and a Parking Space


Rock climbing isn’t the easiest hobby to pick up in St. Louis. The city lacks the luxury of towering granite cliffs of Yosemite National Park.

Missouri does have limestone cliffs in areas around the Ozarks and places like Elephant Rocks, but they aren’t the best for climbing.

Limestone is composed of calcium carbonate, which dissolves in water— so the cliffs fall apart, making them unsuitable for climbing.

Fortunately for some, a few college campuses around Missouri have rock climbing gyms for ‘rock-jocks’ to escape.

I’ve been climbing for about four years now. I spent the past summer working as a rock climbing instructor in New Mexico. I also belong to Climb So-Ill, a rock climbing gym in St. Louis. Climbing is a huge part of my life, and I would love to make it part of my life here at Webster. Building a rock climbing wall could benefit Webster’s campus and students. College is all about giving students the chance to try new thing

Ted Hoef, dean of students, also agrees that students probably haven’t had the opportunity to try rock climbing. Building a rock wall at Webster would give students that opportunity.

“Students stumble across things that they discover an interest in, and then it becomes something they enjoy for the rest of their life potentially. It’s important for us to present opportunities for that serendipity to happen,” Hoef said.

University of Missouri- Columbia, Saint Louis University, Southeastern Missouri State University, and Missouri State University all have rock walls on their campuses. Since college life brings so much stress, students need to find healthy, active ways to relieve that stress.

Christopher Mantese, fitness associate in the Simmon Rec Center at SLU, explains the benefit of having a rock wall at their university.

“It’s another aspect of fitness, giving more options to stay healthy,” Mantese said.

Rock Climbing walls serve as more than an outlet for students to stay fit and relieve stress; they can also attract potential students. Ted Hoef has visited recreational facilities at other universities and agrees the university could benefit in more than one way by having a rock wall on campus.

“To have a really attractive athletic facility encourages people to come [to Webster]. Right now there is nothing that really draws people in,” Hoef said.

Ted Hoef said the concept of building a rock wall has been mentioned at Webster several times, going back many years. The university recognizes the need for a new athletic facility, which could potentially have a rock wall. Unfortunately other priorities come first, like building a new parking garage, a new science facility, and more housing.


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