Climbing wall expansion still in the works

Bozeman is home to an avid climbing community which includes many MSU students. This excitement has been hard on the climbing wall in the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center. An estimated 60 to 80 patrons use the climbing wall each day, and 10 to 12 climbers per hour when the wall is busy. The heavy usage is not new. In 2011 a proposal was formulated to expand the climbing wall into the adjacent racquetball court.

The proposed expansion has come up against several obstacles, but continues to find support among MSU students. Noah Bosworth is an employee at the fitness center and works at the climbing wall. He is also a member of the Vert-I-Go Climbing Club. Bosworth believes the number of people using the wall and student interest is justification for going through with the expansion “We see it at the climbing gym every week, I’d say every shift between five and ten people ask me, ‘hey what’s up with the expansion?’”

Funding and organization have been a major challenge. The original plan no longer suffices, as cost and other factors have changed over the past five years. Bosworth partially attributes the hold-up to issues of organization, “A chronic issue with this expansion effort has been, somebody gets interested in it, somebody gets busy, and then they graduate before they can make headway.”

Kevin Volkening, an MSU student killed in a climbing accident, initiated the plan and started the Vert-I-Go Climbing Club. Bosworth believes that expanding the wall in memoriam of Volkening would be a worthy tribute to an important contributor to the MSU climbing community and would be more justification for the expansion. “It’s not just a bunch of college kids wanting a climbing gym, it’s college kids wanting a climbing gym for a great purpose, to pay tribute to a great individual.”

The fitness center also hosts a yearly climbing competition, and Bosworth explained that the wall is barely able to accommodate. The Prince and Princess of Plastic climbing competition will be held on Feb. 20 this year, and is open to everyone. Bosworth believes that with all of the interest in climbing in Bozeman, the competition has potential for growth. “I think a competition like that brings a lot of potential to the school.”

Continuing with the expansion will require drawing new plans for the expansion, which will be costly. Bosworth explained that he and others pushing for the expansion are taking steps to move forward, like getting ASMSU involved and organizing meetings among those who can help them draw new plans.