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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Outdoor Rock Wall Popular

Climbers of all levels attracted to campus rock wall.

2013-07-08
Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 7-7-2013

MANKATO — The new rock- climbing wall in Myers Field House at Minnesota State University, Mankato is a pretty popular indoor adven­ture activity that draws folks in from around the region.

But now that summer is upon us, the outdoors seem even more appealing. Luckily, Minnesota State Mankato has a lesser-known outdoor rock- climbing option on campus that has been around for even longer than the indoor wall.

For a couple of years the four-sided, 35-­foot Outdoor Pinnacle has stood on land behind the former Gage Complex, and it’s developed a fan base of its own. The first fall it was open, 650 people came to use it, said Sam Steiger, program coordinator of the Adventure Education Program.

And that’s not just students, said sum­mer intern Micah DeLong. The wall is open to people of any age; children just need an adult present.

The wall was built to accommodate and challenge a variety of climbers. The structure includes “natural features,” like the crevices a person would encounter on a real wall in nature.

“Beginners are great out there because there are a lot of natural places for hands and feet,” DeLong said. "We set routes on the wall, and there are different difficulty levels.”

There are three staff members on at all times to offer training and to help holdcombination of low-level and high-level ropes activities that focus on teamwork, communication and leadership activities.

Unlike the wall, the ropes course isn’t a pay-to-play activity, so individuals and families can’t come out and climb for fun. It’s meant for groups that have set goals and reserve time, DeLong said.

Minnesota State Mankato’s experiential education program also uses the course for class work.

DeLong said programs are available to groups to combine use of the rock-climbing wall and the ropes course.

Both are usually open through early October and reopens in the spring, although the Gage implosion caused both to be off limits for a couple of weeks.

Use of the wall will be open again July 13.

Steiger said last spring that both walls on campus create a unique recreational opportunity that people can’t get many other places.

“I’ve been excited about it because there’s no climbing opportunities, for the most part, from the Cities to Iowa,” said Steiger, who has about 20 years experience in the adventure education industry, including rock-climbing in southern California.

Construction of the $150,000 indoor wall by Nicros Inc. took place last spring and was completed in July. The 2,000 square-foot wall can hold 12 climbers at once and has a foam landing surface at its base.

Staff in the Adventure Education Program at Minnesota State Mankato had proposed the indoor wall after the completion of the outdoor wall the summer before.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at www.mankatofreepress.com.

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