Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some organizations that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every week for a new post from The Club Chronicle! 

The Club Chronicle Interview #22: NU Rec Climbing

Can you tell me about yourself and NU Rec Climbing?

My name is Chris Ritter, and I’m the president of the Northeastern Recreational Climbing Club. We are a pretty new club, we started 3 years ago now in 2016. Ever since we’ve been trying to be a community of climbers on campus. We offer all sorts of resources and discounts and things for members in the climbing world. We like to be an open all inclusive all experience level all people welcome community of climbers. My job as president is mainly to interface with groups of people outside the club, like other climbing clubs at other schools try to organize events with them, and organize with other clubs at this school like NUHOC. I try to establish relationships with climbing gyms in the area as well. Lastly, I want to try to meet everyone in the club. We are pretty large but not everyone climbs on the same day. We don’t have a set time for climbing. Members generally meet Mondays and Wednesdays and climb as long as they want. Because of that not everyone knows who’s in the club so I try to bridge that gap and introduce people and establish that sense of community.

Do you need experience to join?

The whole point for us is to allow someone who has never climbed before to be able to come with us and get something out of it. If they come along with a member, we have guest passes so they can get in at a cheaper rate, which would include gear. If you were to come with us on that night we could help you get equipment and everyone is also happy to share their knowledge. One thing about climbers is most of the time they have a willingness to share knowledge and experiences when it comes to improving technique and skills. With that, on Mondays and Wednesdays, our e-board training coordinators will lead technique classes and workouts for members. Tonight I’m going climbing right after this, and we are learning about the different types of holds you can use. It may seem like a mundane thing but it can go deep and it’s not obvious knowledge that someone just coming into the climbing world would know. We try to make it more accessible to people who have never done the sport in their life.

Members practicing their heel-hook technique during a Technique Monday lesson.

You said you try to go on Mondays and Wednesdays but there isn’t a set schedule. How do meetings work?

Our meeting format is a little interesting. We have monthly meetings which are casual meetings where you come to learn about what’s going on in terms of local gyms, competitions and events, and meet other people. We also have a movie night every semester. In the past, we’ve had monthly movie nights but we’ve changed it to semesterly this year.  We’re having one in November, Reel Rock, which will be our biggest event on campus. In terms of climbing, most of our members go to the gym on Mondays and Wednesdays. It’s non committal, if you can’t make it then, there are members that climb on other days. We have a Slack channel where people organize trips together. We try to keep the Monday/Wednesday thing consistent so there’s always a few people climbing on a given night. 

How do students get involved?

Right off the bat every semester we try to take opportunities to get people interested. That involves working with the gym to let Northeastern students climb at a discounted rate on a given night for example. We always try to lower the barrier of entry. That always happens at the beginning of the semester. As the semester goes on, a more solid group of people tend to stick around.. Every once in a while, suddenly a lot of people will decide to come out, but even on lull weeks there are always people at the gym to help out and hang out. We generally take the T to whichever local gym, but we are working on getting some on-campus facility to get into climbing. Whether it’s a better training facility in Marino or some dedicated climbing wall. Even BU has a climbing wall. We want to make it as accessible as possible, that oftentimes manifests in easier ways of climbing at or getting to a climbing gym.

Training Coordinator Walter conquers his project.

You mentioned a slack channel, how can people get into that? 

The link for our slack is on our website, https://northeasternclimbing.github.io/nrc/, or you can shoot us an email at nurecclimbing@gmail.com.

Do you have social media accounts?

@NUrecclimbing is our instagram, but we mostly communicate through Slack. 

What is your favorite event you’ve participated in?

This past summer, I alongside a couple other NRC members got in contact with Youth Enrichment Services (YES) about getting involved in some volunteering opportunities. YES works to get Boston school kids outside and adventuring, and they often do climbing trips. One weekend we spent the day outside on some really cool cliffs with some high schoolers, many of whom had never been rock climbing before. We helped them belay, problem solve, and build confidence in a fun and active way.  If we’re talking more specific club related stuff, last year myself and the captain of the climbing team put on this intercollegiate for-fun competition. Northeastern competed in a casual way against some Boston area schools like Tufts, MIT, BU. It wasn’t a standard competition. You’d get points based on various things you do as a team, and that created a positive team atmosphere where we collaborated on climbs, strategized, and cheered each other on. We got beat out by Tufts, but it was a close battle. That was a fond memory because we were getting people involved in a way that they had not previously tried in terms of competitive climbing. 

Vice President Anton eyes up a hold after spending the day cleaning up the trails and climbing spaces of Lynn Woods.

How many students are involved in NRC?

We have about 130 active members who have paid the $10 dues to join. On a given night you might see anywhere between 10 and 30 at the climbing gym, and we have a good tight knit community who like to get out there. It can be surprising how many people are there that you may not realize are in the club, which is something I want to improve on. We recently got some nifty wristbands to help identify fellow club mates, so keep an eye out for those. 

What’s one thing you wished people knew about climbing?

One thing is that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be the first year climbing is an Olympic sport. It’s really cool for the sport in general and for public knowledge of its many disciplines. I find when people watch a climbing competition they might think “Oh, I could never do that”. You don’t need a lot of experience to get on a wall. They make an interesting progression system by labeling climbs based on difficulty. In bouldering, VB is the easiest, which is essentially a ladder, but you’re still using the climbing holds. Then you get up to V0 and start using more of your arms and core, and then it progresses numerically from there (V1, V2, all the way up to V17 so far). Sport/roped climbing grades work much the same way. You might see people climbing in the Olympics at high levels but that’s not all the sport is. You can really get into it easily even if you’ve never touched a climbing hold in your life. 

What is your favorite part about NRC?

I haven’t been climbing that long in comparison to some others in the club. I started freshman year when the club started. For me the club has meant a few things. Firstly, it’s been an outlet. When I exercise, I focus more on myself since I’m not a big fan of traditional team sports as much. I like the idea of pitting yourself against your own wits and strength. Being in the club is a great motivator to get out there and work out in a really fun and unique way. Other than being a great way to exercise, the club is an amazing way to meet with people across all backgrounds. I’ve met a lot of really cool people from this club, friendships that will last beyond college. I really want to share this community spirit with more people. Like I said before, everyone wants to share their experience and knowledge about the sport, and just by talking to people about climbs you start to get to know them and build a rapport. Once you find some people who are just as excited as you are, you can have a really fun time with it. I also talked about the leveling system before, which can be a real marker for progression that I appreciate (especially for newer climbers). You can tell you’re getting stronger, and share that excitement of getting your first V2 with your friends. You can see maybe you struggled last week on one level, but now it feels natural. It’s great to see that progression, and I love seeing my friends progress too.