Students rally to save rock wall at rec center

What do construction signs, hard hats and MizzouRec’s rock climbing facility have to do with each other? On Aug. 24, at the rec center’s annual “Rally” training event, it was announced that Scroggs Peak and Brewer’s Butte ­­— Mizzou’s 35.5-foot-high climbing tower and bouldering wall — could be torn down during winter break to create more space for the Pump Room and Jungle Gym.

“I thought it was a joke at first,” said Hli Yang, a sophomore science and agricultural journalism student and a member of the Mizzou Rock Climbing Club. “When I finally figured out they weren’t kidding, I was shocked. Why would they tear something so cool down?”

Instead of accepting this, students, alumni and community members are fighting back. Social media has played a large part in getting the word out to the community. As of Oct. 3, the Facebook group “Save the Mizzou Rec Rock Wall” had 880 members. Students, Columbia residents and even climbers from other colleges, the University of Kansas included, are showing their support for keeping the rock wall by writing testimonies about what the wall means to them and what the wall has to offer.

“Any voice helps,” Yang said.

Alterative solutions are being proposed so that the MU student rec complex can expand the Pump Room and Jungle Gym without removing the wall completely.

“I certainly think that their solution to the overcrowding in the Pump Room shouldn’t involve depriving students of an important recreational activity in its own right,” said Jim Karpowicz, a 1981 MU graduate and a climber for 30 years. “It’s like saying we have an issue with the swimming pool, let’s destroy the basketball courts.”

The Pump Room and Jungle Gym, two of MU rec complex’s premier weight rooms, want an expansion. A “MizzouRec PumpRoom Expansion” Facebook page has also been made to encourage the expansion. As of Oct. 3 the page had 264 likes. This expansion is needed when factoring in the amount of people who go in and out.

“The entire gym is always really packed, every single spot of the gym, but I’ve never seen a single person on the rock wall so it’s really not worth it,” said Zach Riffey, a business management freshman who uses the Pump Room three to four times a week. “I hear people talk about it, but no one’s actually been on it or been there. It’s a waste of space and the Pump Room really needs more room.”

However, this rock wall is a key component for the active Mizzou Rock Climbing Club, a MU student rec complex club sport.

“Before you can be in the club, you have to get a license,” Yang explained. “You have to come in and learn how to tie all the ropes, learn to belay and if you pass that, then you get a license and you are an official rock climber.”

Capen Park, near Rock Quarry Road, is where the club climbs outside frequently. It is often difficult for beginners, Yang said. The MU student rec complex’s inside wall is where beginners start and where active members practice. Along with Capen Park, they take trips to Arkansas, Kentucky and the Las Vegas area to climb. These trips give members the opportunity to climb outside in other locations with the Mizzou Rock Climbing Club. The dues each member pays covers the camping on these big trips, access to Capen Park and the use of club gear.

“Tearing down the wall would be tearing down the entire base of the club,” Yang said.

Right now, tearing down the wall is still a “conversation” between officials and the community. No final plans have been made at this point. However, the students are not backing down. They want it to be known that it will make a huge impact if it’s gone.

“It’s the only facility in mid-Missouri, we have fairly good recreation climbing outside here, but in the heat of the summer and the dead of the winter it’s the only place to go,” Karpowicz said.

Yang explained the dynamic of the climbing wall and the community.

“What we always like to say is we’re a family,” Yang said. “That’s why it touches close to us, because it’s like you’re tearing our house down.”

Jessica Weiss

About the Author Jessica Weiss

I love photography and all the adventures that come with getting the perfect shot. I am more proud of my Irish heritage than anything else and frequently complain that I don’t have naturally red hair; after a few months of the same hair color, I dye it because I get bored … but it always stays within the red range. Traveling is my passion, and I cannot wait until I can say I have been to every continent and more than 10 countries. Recently I have developed a new love for both meditation and rock climbing. And, I say sweetie, doll, honey, darlin’ and y’all as if I’m from the south, but I grew up in Elwood, Illinois, and pronounce my –a’s harsh like a native Midwesterner.