The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 18, 2013

Alumni, children hit the (climbing) wall

MANKATO — Being an alumna of Minnesota State University earned Bev Thorn a bucket full of grandma points Sunday afternoon.

She had a front row seat in Myers Field House as her granddaughter, Emily Fitterer, and three grandsons used colorful handholds and footholds to maneuver up the university’s challenging indoor climbing wall. They joined dozens of alumni and their family members for the first-time event that gave them a chance to try the wall for free.

“I got an email from the college,” Thorn said. “I thought this would be a fun thing to be doing on a cold March afternoon.”

Fitterer, a North Mankato fourth grader, was thrilled. She and her friends had seen the climbing wall during indoor soccer practices. She said she had been hoping for a chance to join in the fun.

“We were just hanging around and she showed me some pages with pictures of the wall,” Fitterer said. “She said, ‘Oh, didn’t your mother tell you, we’re going to go climbing.

“It’s really fun, but it can be a little scary. When you get up high, some people are scared of heights and you can get a little dizzy. But it’s a lot of fun when you figure it out.”

Climbing has become a popular sport and is growing because it’s both mentally and physically challenging, said Sam Steiger, MSU’s Adventure Education Program coordinator. In addition to the indoor climbing wall, Campus Recreation also has a an outdoor wall that looks and feels more like real rock, Steiger said. Both walls are less than a year old.

The program is offering a variety of camps this summer for people of all ages. The indoor wall also is open to the public Sunday through Thursday nights from 7 to 11 p.m. A daily pass is $12, a four-month pass is $60 and a four-month family pass is $150.

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