After three strenuous tries, junior exercise science major Craig Lowrie comes off the wall with a smile and a few high-fives from his friends.
For the past two weeks, a V4- rated boulder route is all he had been talking about. On this given Wednesday, he finally nailed it.
Lowrie and his friends spend their Wednesday nights “on the wall,” along with several other Cabrini students at the Philadelphia Rock Gym, located in Oaks, Pa.
“It’s a lot of fun to get out here and challenge yourself,” Lowrie said.
Such a hobby can be rather costly, starting at $23 for a day pass and over $50 for a month membership.
Thankfully for Cabrini students, every Wednesday is on the house. Philadelphia Rock Gym invites any student of the college to enjoy free admission from 7 to 10 p.m.
“I’m dreading graduation because then I’m going to have to pay for a membership,” Sarah Burke, a senior chemistry major, said.
For Burke, it is much more than just a freebee, it provides a great challenge as well.
“It’s always hard,” Burke said. “Just when something gets easy, you can always move up to a harder level.”
According to the Web site, the Philadelphia Rock Gym in Oaks, Pa., which opened in 1994, was one of the first of its kind in the country. It is a simulation of the real-deal rock face climbing that takes years to train for, and it has spread like wildfire.
A habitual user of Cabrini’s gym in the Dixon Center, Lowrie welcomes the change of scenery on Wednesdays.
“It’s all about meeting new people and going to a gym that is much bigger than Cabrini’s,” Lowrie said. “You can get a great workout in and have fun at the same time.”
The gym offers two different types of climbing for those who are new to the sport. Top-roping is probably the most well known form of climbing as the climber, equipped with a harness and rope, goes straight up the wall. A belayer stands on the ground and securely holds and tightens on the rope, and then slowly lowers the climber back down at the end of their climb.
You must be belay certified in order to assist a climber. However, Philadelphia Rock Gym offers a half hour to 45 minute belay class, also free of charge for Cabrini students.
Bouldering on the other hand, is a quick alternative that involves horizontal moves on the wall as well as vertical.
Lowrie prefers the challenges of the boulder routes over any other form of climbing.
“Bouldering is all mental, and if you fall, well, you’re going to fall,” Lowrie said. “I just hope to fall graciously.”
Luckily for Lowrie and other boulderers, the bouldering wall is no Mount Everest. All of the routes are located on a wall only half the size of the top-roping wall and feature movable crash-pads to ease an otherwise rough landing.
As if being free isn’t convenient enough, Cabrini actually provides free transportation as well, courtesy of Rob Devasto.
“Since I drive the van for the school, I volunteered to drive my fellow students to the gym,” Devasto, a senior math major, said.
Like Lowrie, Devasto comes for the atmosphere as well as the workout.
“I’ve already been at least 20 times,” Lowrie said. “It just never gets old.”