The San Juan College indoors rock climbing wall will host family climbs on Nov. 4, Dec. 9, Jan. 20 and Feb. 10

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With 6,000 square feet of climbing and 17 top rope stations, San Juan College’s indoor climbing wall is one of the largest in the western United States. Routes are designed for beginners, intermediate and advanced climbers, and the wall offers 12 lead climbing lines, two roofs, a running crack and a 600- square-foot bouldering cave.

"The appeal of climbing is that it can inspire beginners as young as kindergartners to gain self-confidence as they try something new, and it can sustain engagement with intermediate and expert climbers because of the mental and physical stamina it entails," said Annie Willmon, the college's coordinator for outdoor recreation. "Climbing is associated with the indomitable human spirit and has taken individuals from local community climbing gyms all the way to the ends of the earth — literally."

The college offers numerous opportunities for the community to experience the wall, with an upcoming family climbing night from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 4. The program is designed for kids ages 5 to 13, with music, games and prizes.

These events are scheduled monthly from November through February, with additional family climbing nights from 4 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 9, Jan. 20 and Feb. 10.

The events are free for San Juan College Health and Human Performance Center members and $5 per climber for non-members. All participants must have a waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Sterling Acree, a father of four, has enjoyed bringing his kids to this event.

"Family Climbing Night at San Juan College is a great opportunity to let your kids get out of their comfort zone and have a real adventure, especially if they've never climbed before," he said. "The staff at the Health and Human Performance Center was incredibly helpful and really encouraged my kids to push themselves. My kids loved it!"

Throughout the year, interested climbers can participate in events, including competitions. The annual "BOOouldering" Halloween Competition recently took place, with attendees climbing in costume, Willmon said.

"The Halloween Bouldering Competition has bouldering routes that are rated V0, V1, V2, and V3, so there are routes primarily for beginner and intermediate climbers," she said.

The San Juan College indoor climbing wall staff includes nine instructors who are certified through the American Mountain Guides Association, which is the authoritative voice on climbing and dictates industry standards relating to safety and instruction.

"Popular activities on the wall include blindfolded climbs and partner climbs where partners are tethered together by a rope connecting their harnesses, which allows them to try the challenge of synchronized climbing," Willmon said.

The indoor climbing wall now features an adaptive harness and seat that makes the climbing wall accessible for individuals who may not have the use of their lower limbs or arms. A mechanical advantage pulley system attaches to a seat that can be lifted up the wall, and a video explaining this system is available at sanjuancollege.edu/climbing.

Additionally, the climbing wall can be booked for group events, including birthday parties. Interested parties need to make reservations at least two weeks in advance, and details, including hours, are also available at sanjuancollege.edu/climbing or 505-566-3487.

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