MANKATO — The new rock-climbing wall in Myers Field House at Minnesota State University is a pretty popular indoor adventure activity that draws folks in from around the region.
But now that summer is upon us, the outdoors seem even more appealing. Luckily, MSU has a lesser-known outdoor rock-climbing option on campus that has been around for even longer than the indoor wall.
For a couple of years the four-sided, 35-foot Outdoor Pinnacle has stood on land behind the former Gage Complex, and it's developed a fan base of its own. The first fall it was open, 650 people came to use it, said Sam Steiger, program coordinator of the Adventure Education Program.
And that's not just students, said summer intern Micah DeLong. The wall is open to people of any age; children just need an adult present.
The wall was built to accommodate and challenge a variety of climbers. The structure includes “natural features,” like the crevices a person would encounter on a real wall in nature.
“Beginners are great out there because there are a lot of natural places for hands and feet,” DeLong said. “We set routes on the wall, and there are different difficulty levels.”
There are three staff members on at all times to offer training and to help hold climbers with ropes.
“We facilitate for all levels of climbing. It's a great intro wall,” he said. “It's a great way to get your family involved.”
In the same area behind where Gage stood is a ropes course that's become popular for groups, DeLong said. School groups, sororities and fraternities, sports teams, businesses, organizations and others book time slots (a minimum of four hours is recommended), and Adventure Ed plans a program for them.
The program usually includes a combination of low-level and high-level ropes activities that focus on teamwork, communication and leadership activities.