USF Women Hit the Walls: the Rising Trend in Rock Climbing

Even though it’s out of the running for a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games — it was one of eight sports being considered until it was voted out in May — rock climbing seems to be gaining popularity, particularly amongst the college-aged crowd. It’s a sport that’s difficult to track in terms of participation (outdoor climbers don’t report to anyone), but a 70 percent increase in sales of climbing shoes over the past five years reported by Eastern Mountain Sports gives an indication that climbing is growing. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates total participation in the U.S. at somewhere between 4.7 million and 6.9 million people. San Francisco has several indoor rock climbing gyms, and USF students are taking advantage of them. Planet Granite in the Presidio is a popular climbing destination, as is Mission Cliffs on Harrison St. The guys are definitely doing it too, but it seems to be the women of USF who have really taken the sport to heart. Here’s what three USF ladies have to say about how this hip, trendy sport plays a role in their lives.

Chelsea Mandell, senior

“[I like] backpacking and being outdoors, so the next step is to rock climb when I’m out there, so I have to build up while I’m here [at the gym].”

“It’s a good mental challenge, as well as physical.”

Grace Hall, sophomore

“I got into it because my friends were doing it, and I’ve done a lot of sports like volleyball, tennis, soccer and all those things in high school. And so I really wanted to try something new at an older age and work up to the technique, and not just have it from when I was younger, something I could personally work on.”

“It’s a total different sort of sport— a lot of the sports I’ve done are a lot of running, like soccer and such. This is more core, similar to yoga, where you need sort of a breakthrough, you have moments where you’re like ‘I can’t do it’ and then that sort of breakthrough is really rewarding, which I enjoy. Same with like mapping where you’re going to go, I like that strategic thinking.”

“Each level you become confident in and then you move on to the next one, it’s about building your confidence up.”

Amelia Barton, sophomore

“It’s fun because it’s more than just physical strength, it’s mental capacity as well — you have to figure out the wall, like it’s a puzzle where you are going to go next.”

“I would love to rock climb outside. That’s what makes me most interested in getting good in the gym because I eventually want to go outside.”

“I’ve always been into cardio and running, and rock climbing has more strength involved…you are building up muscle and that is good for you. And it’s good to do fun activities that are also workout based, because then you get into that healthy lifestyle. It’s not always a job to work out, it’s also fun.”

“I think the soreness is just proof that you are really improving and working out and it’s good.”




3 thoughts on “USF Women Hit the Walls: the Rising Trend in Rock Climbing

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