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Climbing Club Celebrates for Six Weeks
February 13, 2006

The Calvin Climbing Club has just launched its Winter Climbing Session, a six-week, unlimited-climbing experience for the entire Calvin community.

The session runs from February 4 to March 16 at Inside Moves, a climbing gym on 76th Street in Grand Rapids.

A modest $40 fee gives participants a pass for unlimited use of Inside Moves for the entire six weeks.

To participate in the Winter Climbing Session or for more information about Calvin Climbing Club events, contact:

  • Mike Tolsma at mjt3@calvin.edu
  • Tara Kamps at tlk3@calvin.edu
  • Bob Tipton at rat4@calvin.edu
  • Tim Hurst at tfh2@calvin.edu

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, beginning at 4:30 p.m., Calvin senior Mike Tolsma and other climbing club leaders will be on hand to give beginners free instruction in climbing basics (a service that typically costs $16). The club will also rent equipment to climbers for a reduced fee.

Tolsma and fellow climbing club leader Bob Tipton, a Calvin sophomore, hope that the event will draw Calvin students, faculty and staff — both experienced climbers and novices — to what they think is an amazing sport, while keeping costs reasonable.

“It’s a great deal,” says Tolsma. “I don’t think we’re going to make any money on this. We just want to introduce people to climbing."

“And," says Tipton, "give them something to do in the wintertime."

Climbing, both leaders insist, is not a daunting sport.

“If you see pictures, it looks kind of nuts,” Tolsma says. “The more you learn about it the less intimidating it is. As people get more used to the systems that we use with climbing — protection systems, ropes, knots — they’re pretty at ease. I don’t think we’ve had anyone really freak out.”

Both Tolsma and Tipton are American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) certified top rope site managers. The Calvin club has also held self-rescue clinics that trained leaders in a host of different rescue scenarios.

The two-year-old Calvin club has given climbers plenty of opportunities, offering climbing events around and outside the state.

“We’ve had a couple of dozen events this fall with over a hundred participants at seven to nine outdoor sites, and we’ve never had an injury,” Tolsma says.

The big risk for first-time climbers, claims Tipton, who did his first climb in Jacks Canyon in Arizona, is the addictive nature of the sport.

It’s called the climbing bug," he says. "It’s like catching a fever. It’s like a passion that kind of grows, and that’s all you want to do.”

The club plans to give climbers of all skill-levels lots of opportunities to indulge their passion, sponsoring numerous spring trips to Red River Gorge, Ranwick Rock in Ontario and several other sites.

“We’re doing a bunch of weekend trips. Those are outdoors and real rock,” Tolsma says. “We get really high up there, and it’s a great vantage point. It’s usually a great setting that you can’t see unless you’re above the tree line.”

The sport also builds something beyond muscles says Tolsma.

“Camaraderie has a lot to do with it,” he says. "It’s kind of like a really big trust that is built between a climber and the person that belays for them. I didn’t even meet Bob until last year.”

Says Tipton: "And Mike is going to be standing up in my wedding."

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson