Mount Royal Unversity’s climbing facility opened in 2002. And with over 5000 square feet of climbing opportunities, they receive approximately 10,000 visitors each school year. The majority of those are students whose access to the facility and equipment rentals is included in their fees. MRU’s Climbing Centre is eager to bring in students who are new to the sport.

“We want to remove those barriers for people as much as possible and get folks in,” said Jesse Sheets.

Sheets is the adventure program supervisor for the Cougars Athletics and recreation facilities. Since 2016, he’s been witness to the growing number of students who are coming back to the climbing wall. Students are eager to get involved with the climbing community, be active and have fun in the gym again. 

“I have students that are sitting in there all the time just like doing their homework because it’s a fun place to be in the evenings or in between classes,” said Sheets.

Part of the reason why the Climbing Centre is seeing such a surge of new climbers is due to the fact that the sport was introduced at the last summer Olympics in Tokyo. 

“Folks coming in, are like a little bit less apprehensive because they have a little bit of an idea of what’s going on, even if they’ve ever done it themselves,” said Sheets.

Whether climbers are seasoned pros or newbies who caught the games and thought they’d give it a go. But in the climbing community, it’s the more the merrier. 

Angad Singh mid-climb at MRU Recreation. PHOTO: ANGAD SINGH

With multiple disciplines within the sport itself, the Climbing Center offers a different experiences from bouldering, top rope climbing, lead climbing and sport climbing.  From there, individuals can channel a combination of mental problem solving and physical problem solving to complete their climb. 

“If you show up to a root (a bouldering problem) and you’ve never seen anything like this before, it’s very much like, how can I possibly contort myself to get to the end objective? As you get more comfortable and have a good understanding of managing your body positioning and your balance, it’s a lot of thinking about what sort of interesting moves can I make that will make me feel more smooth, more comfortable,” said Sheets.

At its core, the climbing wall at MRU is an educational facility. With staff working to welcome the students and helping to make them feel comfortable on the wall, and programs designed to ease newcomers into the sport, there are endless opportunities to get started on your climbing journey at MRU. 

“People feel quite a bit more empowered and involved in the process,” said Sheets.

MRU bouldering experience. VIDEO: LUCY BEAUREGARD

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