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Cheap thrills abound in UNC's outdoor clubs

UNC has many outdoorsy student organizations that aim to bring students together while enjoying the outdoors. Cheney Gardner, a senior journalism major and co-director of UNC’s Tramping Club, said being outdoors is an important part of her college experience.

“It’s been an incredibly important part of my experience, and, if nothing else, you get to meet people who like the same things as you,” she said.

The Tramping Club focuses on sharing gear, information and skills to provide students with whatever they need for an outdoor adventure. They also receive donations from Townsend Bertram & Company, an outfitter in Carrboro.

“They donate the gear that we rent,” Gardner said. “So anyone can come on the trip, and it doesn’t matter how much experience they have or how much gear they have. That’s where we come in as a unique student organization — we want everyone to have access to the outdoors.”

Gardner said one of the wildest memories she has of the club is their hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail.

“That was when the bear hunting season opened, and it was crazy because we woke up one morning and there were gun shots,” she said.

UNC’s Surf Club is also no stranger to danger. Junior and president Alex Mitchell, said the club, called “Mo’i” after the Hawaiian word for king, has a certain preference for the waves they ride.

“We’re mostly chasing hurricanes and trying to get good swells — like a pretty nice, chill little category three or four,” Mitchell said. “It’d be really stormy conditions sometimes, but basically you wait for the hurricane to send a ton of waves.”

Mo’i primarily surfs at the Outer Banks but is planning a trip to Puerto Rico this spring. Mitchell said he hopes to see the club grow.

“I’m trying to make it big enough so that everyone who surfs in Chapel Hill can get out to the Outer Banks or possibly exotic locales,” he said.

The Carolina Climbing Club is similarly planning a big trip to Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Cameron Weiner, club president and senior, said the club has grown from 25 to 100 members in the past year and looks to continue expanding.

“Right now there is no sports club for climbing, but just this past week, we applied to become a sports club,” Weiner said.

Weiner said he began climbing his freshman year thanks to his suitemate, Eric Metcalf, who died in a climbing accident the following summer.

“He got us all climbing freshman year, and this was sort of a motivation to stick with it and keep enjoying it,” Weiner said. “The club dedicates its progress to Eric Metcalf.”

Weiner said he thinks college is the best time to try something new such as the climbing club.

“As university students, its probably a good idea to take advantage of a lot of these things because once you leave the university, they’re not free anymore.”

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