“We are trying not to turn people away, but to let people walk in and get them climbing as soon as we can. Now, they can come try it out for a day with a lot less pressure,” said Russell Hobart, the assistant director of climbing programs at Campus Recreation.
In rock climbing, a belayer is someone who is harnessed to the wall with the climber to provide them with the right balance. The belayer serves as a safety measure to support the climber in case of slips or falls.
Auto belaying is a mechanized pulley system that allows for the climber to climb without a belayer. The climbing walls at both Fetzer Gymnasium and Rams Head Recreation Center now have the auto belays.
In the past, beginner climbers at Campus Recreation were required to pay a $30 fee and take an introductory belaying course — but the new auto belays simplify the process and reduce training costs to only $10.
The new auto belays allow beginner climbers to get on the wall in a matter of minutes.
Maddy Strauss, the student manager for the wall, said prospective climbers now just have to ask someone at the front desk for an orientation on the auto belay, a process she said can be done in five minutes.
Hobart said the auto belay was implemented because there would be long gaps where no one would be able to get certified to climb.
“Last weekend we were on break and the two weekends before that we didn’t have classes,” Hobart said.