Huskies climbing their way to the top

Typically in sports, it can take a few years for a team to develop the chemistry and skills needed to succeed at important competitions.

In the span of one month this past spring, the Northeastern Climbing Team was established, practiced together a few times, and then finished second at the Collegiate Climbing Series national championships in Florida.

“We went in with the idea that we were going to work really hard and that we had the potential to do great,” said club president Evan Goldfinger, E’18.

This year the club has much more time to prepare for nationals, which are set for April 2015, and will compete in a number of local climbing competitions throughout the academic year. There are 24 climbers on the co-ed team, which holds weekly practices at MetroRock Climbing Center in Everett where a member of the MetroRock staff serves as a their coach.

And while top results at competitions and the national championships are important goals for the team this year, students said growing the rock climbing community on campus and in Boston are also top priorities.

“We want to get more people in the city climbing,” Goldfinger said. “And not just the top climbers. We want to create opportunities for all levels of climbers at all colleges to be able to compete.”

For its part, the team is also looking to start a Beanpot-themed climbing competition that would include colleges and universities from around Boston.

At competitions climbers compete in three disciplines that test speed, agility, and strength. Josh Martin, PhD’17, explained that being a successful climber is not about being the tallest or strongest person. “It’s not really about upper body strength,” Martin said. “A lot of successful climbing has to do with technique.”

Goldfinger added that climbers actually steer away from traditional weight training because if they build up too much muscle mass they’ll have extra weight to carry up the climbing walls.

Popularity in rock climbing is on the rise, a trend team captain Josh Levin, E’16, said will only continue. More than 50 students tried out for the team this fall, which is more than double the amount that tried out in the spring.

More rock climbing gyms are also being built, Levin said, especially in cities like Boston that have large tech-industries. “Rock climbing is popular with people in the tech-industry because it’s mentally stimulating, it’s very hands on, and there is a problem-solving component,” Levin said.