By Sydney Sibelius ‘18
Rock climbing is a sport that tends to fly under the radar at Scripps College. While there is no climbing gym on campus, many students utilize the Hangar 18 climbing gym in Upland. Outdoor Women Leaders (OWL) supports many weekly trips for those interested in climbing, and there are also a variety of physical education classes involved with the sport. Scripps students lucky enough to live in Southern California also have the opportunity to travel to many great outdoor areas to climb. Ellen Pelos ‘16 is one of the Scripps students that utilizes all of the resources around Scripps to rock climb, and partakes in the sport multiple times a week.
The Scripps Voice: How did you get involved in rock climbing?
Ellen Pelos: I had rock climbed a couple times in high school and first year, and then I really got into it when I took the Outdoor Adventure Rock climbing course [which is offered as a physical education class at the 5Cs that you can register for]. It’s at a local climbing gym, Hangar 18, and you go once a week and also take outdoor trips. Before, I had done some climbing with OWL-- they do carpool trips to the gym and outdoor trips sometimes.
TSV: Now where do you go and what do kinds of things do you do?
EP: During the week, I will go to Hangar 18. They have one in Upland, so it’s very accessible. I go three to four times a week, when I can, and when I’m not super busy. Right now, I’m really into bouldering. You don’t use ropes, and it’s shorter climbs. It’s more of a fun puzzle that you have to think about, but it’s really rewarding when you get to the top and finish it. When I go outside, I go sport climbing [which is a form of climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed on the rock walls], and I’ll practice that in the gym when I go. Sport climbing is longer routes and ropes, and it’s also fun. It’s more repetitive and an endurance challenge.
TSV: What’s your favorite part about rock climbing?
EP: I have to say it’s the people you meet while you’re climbing. It’s an individual sport in a lot of ways in that you can feel yourself progressing and you do your own workouts and you’re motivated internally as the courses get harder, but the community is what keeps me going and what keeps me inspired. There are always different levels of climbers around you at the gym and outside, but all levels are welcome. And I really like the communal aspect of the climbing community. It is very friendly and we all want each other to succeed.
TSV: Where can you climb outside?
EP: There are a few places I have explored so far. I’ve been bouldering in [Joshua Tree], and another place called Black Mountain that is in the southeast. It’s only an hour and a half away, but it’s more like a “foresty” area. I’ve also been to Apple Valley, an hour east of here, where there is more sport climbing. And I made it to Red Rock Canyon, outside of Vegas, which was awesome! We did sport climbing there, and we ran into more people, which was good and bad. You want to be outside in nature by yourself, but it’s also fun to meet the other people out there. I want to go to Zion for canyoneering before the semester ends. [Canyoneering involves rappelling down into a canyon to hike around and rock climb.]
TSV: What are your connections through rock climbing within the Scripps community?
EP: OWL is a great community, and there is a great camaraderie that comes from experiencing climbing together. Climbing is hard itself, it’s a really hard sport, but having the community with other Scripps students is really, really fun. We know we share that bond and we’ve had adventures together. It’s cool to know we connect outside of campus, but know we both share the same passion and bring it back to campus. It’s a great bonding thing, and there are really exciting moments when we find we have the same passion. I carpool with people [to the gym], I’m always driving other Scripps students, and I have so many friends I’ve made through climbing.