UCR’s rock climbing club looking to reach new heights

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Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER
Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

UC Riverside’s rock climbing club was established in 2011 by UCR alumnus Natalie Cookson and currently consists of about 25 official members, all passionate about their organization and the sport of rock climbing. Aside from weekly practices every Thursday at 7 p.m. at The Rock in the Student Recreation Center, members also participate in outdoor excursion trips both locally and to bordering states.  

During their practice on Thursday, Feb. 9, the Highlander was able to catch up with a few of the club’s members to discuss the growth and trajectory of the club.

Jordan Mathew, a third-year linguistics major, who joined the club about two years ago and serves as the club’s secretary, described the culture of the rock climbing community, saying, “I think it’s a really niche community; it’s not for everyone.” He also detailed the types of activities that the club participates in through the school year. “Most of the time it’s outdoor trips. So we’ll hit up (…) places in California or Nevada (…) is probably one of the further places we go to. We’ve been to Malibu Creek State Park; Bishop, California; Black Mountain; Red Rocks out in Vegas and sometimes we camp and sometimes we just go there for a day,” Mathew explained.

Jacob Gonzalez/HIGHLANDER
Jacob Gonzalez/HIGHLANDER

Second-year biochemistry student, Michael Crocamo, explained how he began climbing and met people in the club, leading to him to eventually joining. Crocamo’s favorite experiences in the club include the weekend trips that they take and how close-knit the club is.

Kyna Hernando, a second-year psychology major, found her initial motivation to join the club from her roommate, who at the time was serving as club president. “It’s just something I’ve always been interested in, but was always intimidated by,” Hernando explained. She also detailed how the sport was able to continuously challenge her due to her small size and stature. “It’s challenging on one end, but it’s also really fun because I get to see how much I grow as a climber and it’s so much of a mental game, so I just have to challenge myself in that way as well,” Hernando concluded.

Adding to their growing appeal, the club’s second president, Natalie Duran, is now a professional rock climber, YouTube star and neuroscientist.

UCR’s rock climbing club hopes to keep climbing the ranks among not only UCR student organizations but their competitors regionally. While official paying members are able to attend outdoor trips for free, UCR students are still welcome to join the club at their practices each week.

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