Climbing and community

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The McMaster Climbing Club is a must-join, especially for beginners

By Jenny Zhao, Sports Staff Writer

Despite growing interest, rock climbing is not a varsity sport at Canadian universities. In place of a team, the McMaster Climbing Club looks to foster a community for students to learn and improve in the niche sport. 

The club focuses on two disciplines of climbing: bouldering and top roping. Members can explore both styles indoors and outdoors through trips to the Alpine Tower at Mac, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, Niagara Glen Nature Reserve and the local Gravity Climbing Gym in Hamilton.  

Co-president and avid climber, Nicholas Mitchell, recognizes these opportunities are rare for beginners outside of the club.  

“We definitely understand how it can be a bit of a learning curve getting into [climbing] and there might be a lot of barriers . . . For a lot of people to start climbing, you need to get gear or have a friend that knows how to climb,” explained Mitchell. 

The club aims to overcome these barriers by providing shoe rentals, beginner-specific events and coaching for all members.  

“Our club definitely caters to the more beginner climber, as a lot of us within the club just started climbing when we came to McMaster [University],” said Mitchell. 

"Our club definitely caters to the more beginner climber, as a lot of us within the club just started climbing when we came to McMaster [University]."

Nicholas Mitchell, Co-president of McMASTER CLIMBING CLUB and avid climber

Climbing aside, there is also a significant social part to the club and climbing community itself.  

“Half of climbing is the social aspect. It is a great sport and it will work you until your muscles can’t do it anymore but half of the time that I am climbing, I am talking to my peers. Whether it be advice or asking them about their personal lives,” explained Bri Goddard, the club vice-president internal and facility manager at the Gravity Climbing Gym. 

In recent years, the climbing community is shifting away from being a young and male-dominated sport.  

The growing diversity in the community is reflected by the club’s executive team. Members now have more opportunities to connect with and learn from coaches of all builds, abilities and strengths.  

“It’s such a unique sport that every single person will have their own challenges with because of how intricate the climbs are and that unique perspective, [so] having as many executive members from a diverse community helps,” said Goddard. 

Looking forward, the club eagerly awaits the return of the McMaster climbing wall which provides exposure to the club and a place to call home. 

As co-president, Mitchell also hopes to bring back member turnout while inspiring the next generation of McMaster climbers. 

“Climbing may be intimidating at first, but we really try to embody that – no matter where you start, we all started at the same place. We all didn’t know how to climb at the beginning, but it just takes a little bit of time and commitment. We’re all here to support you and hope that we can help you develop those skills and feel comfortable within the community,” explained Mitchell. 

"Climbing may be intimidating at first, but we really try to embody that – no matter where you start, we all started at the same place. We all didn’t know how to climb at the beginning, but it just takes a little bit of time and commitment."

Nicholas Mitchell, Co-president of McMASTER CLIMBING CLUB and avid climber

Interested students can sign up for a $25 membership fee which comes with a McMaster Climbing Club t-shirt, access to member-only events and other benefits throughout the year. However, membership is not required for all events and trips. For more information on the McMaster Climbing Club, visit their website, Facebook or Instagram

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