By KATIE DOUGLAS (WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The rock wall just opened at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center on campus, but students are already geared up and climbing.
Students, dressed in workout clothes and specially made rock climbing shoes, scale the wall. Montana Seymour, 19, shuffles down the stairs while listening to his headphones. Unlike his fellow climbers, Seymour doesn’t appear ready for climbing, dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans with a studded belt. With a warm smile and shaggy brown hair, he sits down and places his phone and book bag to the side.
Seymour is president and founder of the Central Missouri Climbers club that he established on campus last semester.
“I started the club because I wanted to do competitions between other colleges,” Seymour said. “It is something that not a lot of colleges do, but we are working on getting it set up. We have a competition coming up Nov. 3.”
The main requirement for being a member of Missouri Climbers is that you climb. There is also an annual $15 fee and a mandatory meeting once a month. For Seymour, every time he goes to the rock wall is like a meeting because the group members are always there.
Darius Schnieders, 20, is a criminal justice major and a member of Missouri Climbers. He said that when he saw the rock wall as a freshman, he knew he had to climb.
“I met Montana because I was working at the rock wall when he started to really get into rock climbing,” Schnieders said. “We became friends there and when he started the climbing club I became involved with helping him with that. He is a good president of the club.”
Joining Missouri Climbers was an opportunity for Schnieders to meet new people and climb more often.
“The best part of this whole thing is that there is always someone to go hang out or climb with,” Schnieders said. “We also go off campus together to different places surrounding Missouri for some outdoor rock climbing, which is a lot of fun.”
Seymour, who is now a frequent rock climber, was not one until he arrived at the University of Central Missouri. He said he climbed the rock wall within a couple of days of his first semester on campus and has been hooked ever since. He grew up in Amsterdam, Mo., where he played football at Miami High School. Seymour is a physical education major working toward a degree in exercise science.
“I want to be a personal trainer or a physical therapist,” Seymour said.
He may need his own physical therapist by the end of his time here at UCM. He couldn’t help but smile and laugh, when asked if he has ever injured himself while rock climbing.
“My nickname here is ‘Thud’ because I am always the one who tries stuff for the first time and I am usually the one who falls,” Seymour said. “Last semester, I was bouldering and I fell and landed on my shoulder and separated it. I was out for a month.”
Bouldering is climbing an outcropping or cave-like rock wall. UCM’s bouldering area is to the left of the main rock climbing tower. Seymour said bouldering requires a lot of upper-body strength and technique because you are not hooked up to anything while doing it.
Michael Hayduke, 20, a criminal justice major, is also a member of Missouri Climbers. Hayduke finds the club helpful in improving his rock climbing skills.
“Being in Mo Climbers is beneficial because it gives me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of different climbing methods, travel to different locations, and gain new friends in the process,” Hayduke said.
Hayduke has attended climbing trips with Seymour and said that the experience was awesome.
“He is a great climber and a fun guy to be around, which made the trip even better,” Hayduke said.
Climbing outdoors is like taking a test. You practice and then you’re tested to see how much you know. Seymour describes climbing outside as a completely different and better experience than climbing an indoor rock wall.
“Like if you took a trip outside and came back here, you would be like, ‘I don’t even want to climb this anymore,’” Seymour said. “It’s just really not the same thing.”
Central Trek is another organization on campus that gives students the opportunity to participate in events such as trips and tours, rock climbing competitions, and skeet shooting. Trek Trips are available to all students on campus and gives members of Missouri Climbers additional opportunities to hone their climbing skills.
“In the spring of last year I went on a trip with Central Trek down to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Ark.,” Hayduke said. “It was the first time I had ever climbed outside on actual rock. The trip brought all of us closer together and was one of the greatest trips I’ve ever been on.”
Everyone has goals and aspirations in their life. When asked what his dream climb would be, Seymour’s eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning.
“There are a couple places,” Seymour said. “I really want to go to Thailand to do a deep water solo. This is where you don’t have safety gear or anything on and you are just over water so if you fall, you just fall into the water. Or I want to go to Yosemite and climb Half Dome, which I mean a lot of climbers want to do but I think it would be really cool.”
Seymour’s phone starts to ring and he snaps back to reality. Time is up. But before he goes he offers some advice for people who have never climbed.
“People come in all the time and they’re like, ‘It’s so tall’ but then once they get up there they are fine,” Seymour said. “Some have a fear of falling and I’m like, ‘You just have to let go.’ You just have to trust the equipment.”