Standing on the ground looking up at the top of the Rock Roll, the City Campus Recreation Center's rock wall, the average student has difficulty imagining anyone scaling the wall to make it to the top. There are many routes to choose, and the overhang is a bit intimidating.
The Rock Climbing Club at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, however, sees climbing the wall as a challenge to overcome.
The club has around 35 members, according to Adam Voshall, a third year biology and computer science doctorate student and club president, though only a few regularly attend Monday and Wednesday practices at the rec center at 8:30 p.m. The other members climb during their own time.
"The practices are whatever the member wants to use them for," Voshall said. "Most of our members come to practice just to climb with other members."
Voshall, who has been climbing for 16 years, also provides coaching for the members if they ask. During practices, Voshall gives advice on technique and route reading, which is figuring out the route sequences. Members also work on drills, strength and conditioning workouts to prepare for competitions.
In the past year, the club has gone to competitions at the Ibex Climbing Gym in Kansas City, Kan., Climb Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa, and the local competitions held at the rec center. The club also participated in and won a separate collegiate competition held in Iowa, however, that was the only collegiate competition they were able to make.
"Within the Midwest, most of the clubs are loosely organized," Voshall said. "We're hoping to be able to improve the communication with other clubs over the next few years so we can start competing in each other's competitions more."
The competitions involve much more than just climbing to the top of the wall.
There are three main divisions: bouldering, roped difficulty and speed.
Bouldering focuses on short routes, which are around 12 feet, and is all about difficulty and strength, according to Voshall.
Roped difficulty, on the other hand, requires more endurance than bouldering routes.
Speed competition, which the UNL club does not generally participate in, is when climbers race to the top of their routes. The rules and guidelines for competition are determined by the hosts and are explained before the beginning of the competition, Voshall said.
"There are guidelines available from USA Climbing and the International Federation of Sport Climbing," Voshall said. "But even for the sanctioned competitions, many of these are left up to the hosts."
At any competition the UNL club attends, it usually win and place in the top three.
"We're one of the best collegiate teams in the Midwest," Voshall said.
While winning a competition is thrilling, there are other reasons to love the sport of climbing.
Dana Uhrenholdt, a senior advertising major and treasurer of the club, has been a part of the club for four years.
"I like the fact there's a problem to work on," Uhrenholdt said. "I like problem solving and working through routes. It gives me a challenge to focus on."
Zach Hartman, a senior psychology major, has been working at the rec center rock wall for four years and has been climbing longer.
"What's cool is watching people grow and become better climbers," Hartman said. "I think for the majority, they do it because they love it. It translates well later in life and gives you worthwhile skills."
Voshall began climbing in Kansas City and started climbing competitively 13 years ago, traveling all over the country to do so.
"It's hard for me to describe what I love about climbing," Voshall said. "It's just the feeling of being on the wall and the movement of climbing, especially when I get outdoors and can enjoy interacting with nature in such a direct way."