Warrior Fitness Center’s Climbing 101 enhances morale, teaches safe techniques

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Each week for most of the year — except for a break during summer months — a free Climbing 101 course is offered at the Warrior Fitness Center for those who are eligible to work out in the WFC and who are over the age 13. 

A dedicated team of volunteers manages the wall and climbing program and has fine-tuned the language of this class to make it easy to follow, fun to learn and adheres to industry standards. 

Students learn climbing standards that are the same across the state. They could go to any gym and use their knowledge on other climbing walls.

On Jan. 22, class members gathered to learn the basics of climbing. 

Safety was a key topic and, as instructors pointed out, climbing can be the safest activity done in the gym — if done correctly. It can also be the most dangerous if done incorrectly — which is why this class is critical. 

According to Eli Whitman, Director of the Community Services Flight, all participants learn to use the harness, tie their ropes, conduct proper safety checks and belay “using the PBUS system (Pull, Break, Under, Slide)” — an acronym to remember the steps of proper belaying.

“Our team hopes that participants enjoy the 43-foot Entre-Prises artificial climbing structure and might be inspired to make climbing part of their life, enhancing their morale and resiliency,” said Whitman. “Additionally, we want participants to remember that they must never forget the critical criteria for safe climbing.”

Instructors had a charismatic rhythm to the class that captured participants’ attention and displayed an approachable attitude that welcomed questions from new climbers. 

Explanations were clear and laid out step-by-step, and a helping hand was always available. 

The course offered a hands-on approach, allowing participants to listen to and watch instructors and then practice their new skills on their own until they felt comfortable.

The McPartland family (Retired Military) participated on Jan. 22 because they have an 11-year-old who would like to climb. They are the type of parents who like to experience what their child is interested in and test it out, so they signed up for Climbing 101 to learn the ropes. 

Even on her first time up, Donna McPartland said she could feel how intense an upper-body workout climbing is and hopes to add it to her workout routine. “If I can do it, anybody can do it!” she said.

Classes are hosted for free in the WFC; participants need to wear clothing that does not restrict movement, but all other equipment is provided. Classes are generally made up of eight participants. 

Register by visiting www.75thforcesupport.com/content/fitness-centers, selecting the date you can participate and entering your information if that time slot is available.

For more information about Climbing 101 or the climbing wall in the WFC, call 801-777-2762.