| 03.17.2018

Climbing to the top – Students share their experiences working at the Rock Climbing Center


The rock climbing wall in the University of Idaho”s Student Recreation Center is a resource that students, community members and climbing employees can enjoy.

Kevin Townsley, a UI senior, works at the rock climbing center three days a week.

Alex Brizee | Rawr
Rock Climbing Center employee Josh Nisson boulders on the rock wall at the Student Recreation Center.

“It”s the best job on campus by far. I never don”t like coming to work,” Townsley said. “There”s really no other option for me.”    

Townsley leads weekly instructional clinics that teach people how to be safe on the wall.

He said he also helps teach more advanced climbing clinics.

“How to climb things that are longer than a rope length because obviously you have to be tied up onto the rope,” Townsley said.

Along with teaching the advanced clinics, Townsley maintains a safe environment by making sure that everyone is following the climbing wall rules and wearing their gear correctly.

“It”s almost like lifeguarding but a little but more involved,” Townsley said.

When it comes to climbing, Townsley said he enjoys it not only because it is a physical sport, but also because it requires some technique.

“It”s kind of creative, and also kind of brute force. You can kind of find something that suits your body style,” Townsley said.

Josh Nisson, UI first-year and mechanical engineering major, works at the climbing center with Townsley and has been climbing since his freshman year of high school.

“I”m also on the climbing team and I try and climb probably about two to three times a week depending on how busy I am with school,” Nisson said.

Nisson said he works three days a week or all day on Sunday, usually scanning people into the center and making sure they”re being safe on the wall.

“I talk to people, answer questions, sometimes I”ll teach (the) basic clinic, which is like how to belay or how to tie,” Nisson said.

Outside of the rock climbing center, Nisson will go out and climb twice a week as long as the weather is good.

“The city of rocks over in southeastern Idaho are probably my favorite,” Nisson said. “I”m from Boise so it”s a half-hour drive.”

Townsley said his favorite part of the job is helping a person learn how to climb something that they never thought they could.

“You tell them to put your right hand here and do this with your feet and turn your hips this way and they end up getting it,” Townsley said.   “They”re like, “wow, I could do that, I just had to know the technique,”” Townsley said.

Alex Brizee can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @alex_brizee

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