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Climbing Wall Gets High Tech
New app provides digital opportunities for climbers to practice their skills.
Kristine Goodrich, Mankato Free Press, 3-5-2016
The only one in the region, the indoor rock wall at Minnesota State University, Mankato hosted 18,000 visits from climbers last year.
And now the thousands of climbers have a new digital opportunity to practice their skills.
The university is using a new app called Randori that projects a timed challenge onto the wall.
“It’s like a video game, but on the wall,” said Sam Steiger, director of the Minnesota State Mankato Adventure Education Program.
A controller positions moveable digital targets on the wall and starts the clock that’s also projected there. Players strive to touch all of the targets in the least amount of time.
The new game is being used by Minnesota State Mankato climbing classes and groups that rent private time on the wall inside the Myers Field House. It’s also sporadically available at night when the 2,000-square-foot wall is open to the public.
Minnesota State Mankato hosts the only climbing wall in the Mankato area, and until recently in southern Minnesota. The next closest wall is now in Rochester at Roca Climbing and Fitness, which opened in December.
Steiger is in charge of the indoor wall, as well as the university’s outdoor rock wall and outdoor ropes team challenge course. He teaches two classes of Minnesota State Mankato students each semester. Exercise science major Madison Teasley is among the many students who had never climbed before taking the class. She decided to try something new to fulfill one of her physical education credit requirements.“It sounded a lot better than running the mile,” she said.
After a few weeks of practice, she can make it to the top of the wall rainbow style (not following a set route). “It’s not easy but it’s a lot of fun,” she said.
The wall is available free to all students and to community members for a small sum most evenings. Even first-time climbers are welcome to come give it a try, Steiger said. Instructors are there to help novices get safely on the wall.
Visitors need not have a partner to handle their ropes. Minnesota State Mankato has magnetic belay systems, allowing climbers to use the wall without a spotter. For experienced climbers who want to learn expertise in belaying, workshops are offered on Wednesday evenings.
In a few weeks Steiger and crew will remove all of the hundreds of holds from the wall. After giving them and the wall a cleaning, they’ll set new routes of varying difficulties.
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