OPP Rocks The Circuit

By The Beacon | October 6, 2010 9:00pm

Due to growing interest, the Outdoor Pursuits Program is providing weekly trips to The Circuit Gym

Junior Michael Bates finds himself in a precarious position, but presses on. (Image courtesy of Jessi Pinnock)

By Bruce Garlinghouse, Staff Writer -- garlingh13@up.edu

Along with the many outdoor opportunities UP's Outdoor Pursuits Program (OPP) offers, it will now provide weekly trips to Portland's bouldering gym, The Circuit.

Bouldering is a style of rock climbing that does not require ropes or harnesses. It generally involves short routes or pitches. A crash pad is placed under the climber in the event of a fall. The sport is usually done on boulders or in a gym on artificial boulders, from where its name is derived.

The Circuit Gym, located at 6050 SW Macadam Ave in Portland, is one of the biggest bouldering gyms in the world, according to its website.

Junior Eric Schnepel was introduced to bouldering and The Circuit last year and hasn't stopped going since.

"They have good routes and it's a good community of climbers," Schnepel said.

Fellow climber and friend, junior John Megrditchian said the environment of The Circuit was very important in his progression as a climber.

"A lot of times climbers and climbing gyms can be kind of snobbish," Megreditchian said. "But the climbers at The Circuit are all really nice and everybody wants to see each other progress."

The Circuit is not Portland's only climbing gym. Megrditchian has also been to the Portland Rock Gym but said there is no comparison to The Circuit because the climbers at the Portland Rock gym can seem pretentious.

Megrditchian was introduced to climbing a couple of years ago in Seattle. He and his brother practiced on the University of Washington's rock wall.

Megrditchian and Schnepel both agree that they have seen a growing interest in rock climbing and bouldering among UP students.

"I've began to see more UP students at The Circuit this year. I don't know all of them but I've seen them around campus," Megrditchian said.

He said he's not surprised that there has been increased interest because of the mental and physical benefits bouldering provides.

"You feel so accomplished," Megrditchian said. "It's a good feeling to be working on a hard level and not be able to get it and then one day it just all of a sudden clicks."

OPP Director junior Keri Krenowicz said the increased interest, along with her own love for climbing are the reasons for OPP's decision to begin providing more climbing trips.

"We did some outdoor trips earlier this year, and they received a lot of interest so we decided to do weekly trips to The Circuit," Krenowicz said.

OPP provided two outdoor bouldering trips to Broughton Bluff in the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area and Ozone Wall in the Columbia River Gorge. But because of decrease of favorable weather, she decided it was time to move the climbing indoors.

For $10, students can catch a bus to The Circuit every Thursday til the end of the semester. $2 goes to transportation and it is $8 to get into the gym, which usually costs $10.

According to Krenowicz these trips are not entirely new to the University of Portland.

"About two to four years ago The Circuit would actually come and pick us up here and take us there but then they just stopped doing it," Krenowicz said. "But now we've gotten a lot of interest in climbing trips from students."

Bouldering is an addition to other types of climbing trips OPP provides.

OPP usually hosts rope-climbing trips. There are two types of rope climbing, traditional and sport. According to abc-of-rockclimbing.com, traditional rock climbing involves ropes but no permanent anchors to help climbers descend. Sport climbing involves the use of permanent anchors climbers attach to the wall as they ascend.

"I prefer sport over traditional," Schnepel said. "It involves a lot more athleticism and power.

Krenowicz said that those who are hesitant to try climbing shouldn't be.

"It's easy to pick up the general idea of it and there is easier stuff to get started on," Krenowicz said. "But advancing is definitely a longer process."

Jessi Pinnock scales a shear face. (Image courtesy of Jessi Pinnock)