From Tom Cruise’s crazy ropeless stunt on some massive rock cathedrals in MI2 to Stallone showing off his guns in some epic falling scenes – HANG ON! – in Cliffhanger, rock climbing is all around us and it’s probably because of its sheer awesomeness. So, it’s no surprise that Pomona’s campus has such a sizable climbing community. I spoke with three climbers, Katie Kistler ’12, Zev Gurman ’11 & Cameron Windham ’11, as they did their thing at Hangar 18, a climbing gym in Upland.
How did you get into climbing?
Katie: When I prospied, one of the guys in my hall told me about rock climbing. Then my sponsor freshman year ended up being friends with him and he was always coming to the hall throughout the year. I was first involved in soccer at Pomona, but didn’t like it and decided to get a new hobby: climbing.
What would you say to someone who wants to try climbing, but is afraid of heights?
Katie: [Laughs] That’s me – I’m terrified of heights. I have lots of embarrassing stories as a result… One time we went to Zion and the entire time I’m telling myself, “Just look at my feet and not down.” But at one point I did look down to see like 2,000 ft. below me and I started crying. Everyone in my group had to stop to make sure I was alright.
Do you prefer sport climbing or bouldering?
Katie: I like bouldering more – it’s a lot more social than sport climbing. It’s more focused on specific routes and way more relaxed and friendly. If you don’t get it right away and others are struggling with the same route you try to solve the problem together.
Zev: Sport routes are just longer and something you can climb and climb again, whereas with bouldering I feel a need to conquer a route and once I do I move on. With sport climbing you can go up multiple pitches and get to the top of things. The way I see it, bouldering is more like strength training for sport climbing.
What keeps you coming? Is it the adrenaline rush?
Zev: You do get an adrenaline rush every now and then, but for me it’s definitely a form of procrastination. It’s physical exertion and challenges a different part of your mind you don’t usually use. It’s the best kind of procrastination because it increases both my strength and flexibility in a way that’s more fun than just going to the gym.
Cameron: Climbing is a good way to hone your instincts. It takes that sense of fear and panic and turns it into progress. And the way that it’s just wild and animal-like… there’s nothing that can simulate the way it makes your body move.
Zev looking for a solid foothold
Zev: It’s also such a great community. I don’t think I’ve ever met an a**hole who climbed, well I guess I have… On another level, it forces you to go through your “blame” processes because sometimes after a really difficult route you think, “Whose fault was that?” I began to accept that it’s probably my fault. It also helps you start to take accountability in other parts of your life.
Cameron reaching for it
Photos by Natalie Camou