For a school with exceptional access to a one-of-a-kind mountain landscape, it was only a matter of time before Western made its relationship with climbing official. For the Fall 2019 semester, Western Mountain Sports is adding a new climbing team to a growing collection of Mountain Sports.
“Students at Western have been climbing for decades,” Western Director of Mountain Sports Greg Chase said. “On any given night, the indoor climbing wall at Mountaineer Field House is packed. The idea for the team was natural.”
This new team of student-athletes will be coached by Chris Lindner, a former professional climber who has been climbing ever since he could walk. In addition to over 10 years of experience of climbing professionally around the world. Linder is also well known for his instructional film Sport Climbing 101 with Chris Linder and dozens of teaching clinics, making him a good fit for cultivating a new team.
“When I heard that Western was starting a competitive climbing program, I immediately wanted to be part of it.” Lindner said. “I felt my 30 plus years of experience would provide a competitive advantage for an emerging team.”
Lindner has several goals for the new team, including teaching safety and awareness and developing technical skills for team members by integrating outdoor climbing into the overall program. Ultimately, Lindner wants to prepare the team for competitive success on USA Climbing’s inter-collegiate series, which could establish Western as a regional and national title contender for the years to come.
But there’s more to competitive climbing than just winning. As a sport that’s both physically and mentally challenging, it’s a sport where you can’t accomplish your goals alone. Getting to the top of the wall requires student-athletes to connect and collaborate beyond what they already do in the classroom.
“If our athletes can come together to support each other and all work towards climbing at their highest level it will hinge on their ability to look out for one another and hold everyone accountable,” Chase said. “That is what community is and is the measure of success in my eyes.”
Under the direction of Chase and Lindner, the climbing team will give Western student-athletes a new way to connect, compete and develop a lifelong respect for the world around them.
“I’m always humbled when I learn about all the world-class athletes in the area,” Lindner said. “This is a wonderful chance to contribute to Gunnison’s elite athletic legacy.”
For more information on the team, visit western.edu/mountain-sports/climbing.