Zenor tries not to fall onto the floor from the very bottom of the wall. Zenor climbs on the Climb Iowa Climbing Team.
Zenor tries not to fall onto the floor from the very bottom of the wall. Zenor climbs on the Climb Iowa Climbing Team.
Senad Besic

Spotlight on specialty sports: Rock Climbing

For junior Noah Zenor, climbing up the walls is an everyday occurrence. Zenor is a member of the climbing team at Climb Iowa. “I’m constantly thinking about climbing even when I’m not climbing,” Zenor said. “I’m always thinking that I want to get back on the wall.”

When Zenor found the team, he invited his friend, junior Ben Linscheid, as well. “Noah invited me one night and I came and liked it so I stayed there,” Linscheid said.

Zenor has been climbing for four years now. He and his friends from the team climb for four hours, three days a week to prepare for competition. “When you’re climbing, you have to stay completely focused and you have to clear out everything else,” Zenor said. “You just can’t think about falling. You just have to keep moving up and have this complete mindset that you need to go up.”

There are three different types of climbs they compete with. “Each route has a rating and climbing to the top will get you that many points,” Zenor said, “There’s also Speed Climbing which is how fast you can climb it and then there’s Redpoint which is scored on every hold you get to.” The climbers are attached to ropes that hook up to the top of the wall and also to a belayer on the floor. The belayer’s job is to make sure that even if they do fall, the climbers won’t get hurt.

The walls are 36 feet high and falling from that height could cause serious injury. “I have fallen 30 feet to the ground when my belayer let go of the rope,” Zenor said. “It was his first time leading belaying and you have to hold the rope really tight when they fall and you have to lock it down. He didn’t pull it down far enough and so it slid right through his hands.” Even after that fall, Zenor bounced back up and started climbing again at that practice, though he doesn’t let that belayer lead belay for him anymore.

Zenor doesn’t just stop at the plastic walls, however. He climbs real rock outdoors with Linscheid and the team as well, though the danger of that is a lot higher. “It’s a lot scarier and obviously the landing is not going to be as soft,” he said. “Once I was climbing Devil’s Tower and my foot got stuck in the rock on the way down and I sprained my ankle pretty bad.”

Climbing takes a lot of athletic skill to be able to excel in it. “It takes an incredible amount of strength and you can’t have a day off from working out,” Zenor said.

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