Women on the Wall

Ashley+Beronja%2FNW%0AALMOST+THERE%E2%80%94Junior+environmental+studies+and+sustainability+major%2C+Hailey+Pampreen%2C+follows+routes+outlined+on+the+Outdoor+Recreation+Center+rock+wall+during+Women+on+the+Wall+event+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+9.

Ashley Beronja/NW ALMOST THERE—Junior environmental studies and sustainability major, Hailey Pampreen, follows routes outlined on the Outdoor Recreation Center rock wall during Women on the Wall event on Sunday, Feb. 9.

Ashley Beronja

Basketballs bounced and sneakers squeaked on the floor as rock climbers dashed up the multi-colored wall, strapped in their harnesses.

On Feb. 9, the NMU Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) hosted the Women on the Wall event at the PEIF climbing wall. Women got the chance to rock climb surrounded by other women with the aid of the ORC workers.

While men have primarily dominated the sport of wall climbing, Intramural Sports and Outdoor Recreation Manager Christopher Smith wanted to change that. Smith sought to give women an opportunity to be comfortable not only trying something potentially new, but being around supportive women.

“Primarily, climbing has been a male dominated sport over many years so what we are trying to do is increase the number of women that are coming to our wall,” Smith said. “We take them and put them in a situation with other female climbers. That’s our big idea for Women on the Wall.”

Standing at 25 feet in NMU’s ORC is NMU’s climbing wall nicknamed Boreal Boulder. With different colored trails, there are plenty of ways to climb up to the top.

Abby Hearth, junior outdoor recreation leadership/management major and ORC student manager, is one of the many workers who run the event. Workers assist with putting on a harness, tying knots and giving climbers suggestions while they are on the wall, including placement of feet and hands.

While the ORC workers are there to help with newcomers, Women on the Wall is open for everyone, not just new climbers.

“The past few times we have had this, we got people who have been climbing their entire life and then we get people who have never put a harness on or touched the rock wall,” Hearth said.

Hailey Pampreen, junior environmental studies and sustainability major, has been climbing for two years and this was her first time participating in the event. Pampreen got into climbing after a friend introduced her to someone who was a climber.

While some may be discouraged to participate due to the height or new challenge, Pampreen assured that it’s a worthwhile endeavor. 

“It’s not as serious or scary as it may seem,” Pampreen said.

For students or community recreation members there is no charge to use the climbing wall during open hours, however for non-members, a valid day pass is required and can be purchased for $10. Climbing shoes can be rented for $2 on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information about Women on the Wall and other rec sports, contact Chris Smith at [email protected] or call 906-227-1561.