MSU has an avid climbing community, resulting in heavy use of the university’s climbing wall, located in the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center. Romney gym previously housed the climbing wall, but it was moved to the fitness center in 2008. With this transition, the size of the wall was cut in half. The current bouldering wall is not large enough to accommodate the number of students who utilize the space, which averaged 70 people per day during the Fall 2013 semester according to climbing wall sign-in statistics.
The idea to expand the climbing wall arose about four years ago after a suggestion by student Kevin Volkening, who died recently in a climbing accident. Over the years, the project has continued to progress and is currently led by a committee of climbers and ASMSU Senator Taly Polukoff.
In the fall of 2013, the climbing wall expansion proposal was brought before the ASMSU Senate. A resolution was drafted and the Senate voted in support of the project. Recreational Sports and Fitness supports the expansion as well. Design plans and a bid with a company called El Dorado Climbing have been established and the estimated cost of the project is $200,700. The new section of climbing wall will be installed in the space that is currently occupied by the adjacent racquetball court.
The committee is in the process of drafting a funding proposal. Polukoff explained they will begin by approaching internal sources, specifically the Alumni Foundation. “Right now trying to find funding is our biggest obstacle, actually our only obstacle. We have all of the approval, all of the mockups and the bids, everything set in place,” she said. Once funding is received, construction of the new climbing wall can begin. Ideally, construction would take place over the summer when use of the bouldering wall is lowest because most people climb outside and school is not in session.
Expanding the wall will also improve safety for climbers. According to the committee, a national standard suggests that each climber should have a space of seven square feet on the wall. By this standard, MSU’s climbing wall has a capacity of 10 climbers. The sign-in indicated that during the evenings often 15 or more climbers are using the wall. The expansion would create a safer environment by providing enough space to meet that standard.
The committee believes this expansion will truly benefit the MSU student body. “We want to build a really awesome center. We have such a huge climbing community here; they need a place where they can really connect and get going with the social aspect and can build a community of climbers,” said Polukoff. Kevin Macartney, who was previously involved with the project but has recently graduated from MSU, believes that the amount of traffic seen by the climbing wall warrants expansion. He would also like to see the project succeed in memorial of Kevin Volkening.
According to Polukoff, students can show their support for this project by continuing to use the climbing wall, despite it being overcrowded.