ORC demonstrated rec activities for beginners

Annual outdoor festival showcased the ORC’s regular trips and clinics


RYAN PUGH | The Daily Evergreen

After a safety presentation and demonstration, participants were free to experiment with the equipment.

SYDNEY BROWN, Evergreen reporter

The fourth annual Palouse Outdoor Festival, hosted by University of Idaho’s Outdoor Program and WSU’s Outdoor Recreation Center, had one of their biggest turnouts Saturday afternoon.

UI Outdoor Programs Director Trevor Fulton is responsible for the promotion of cooperation between campuses and local businesses.

Fulton said he aimed at creating an opportunistic setting for anyone interested in becoming more engaged in outdoor recreation during this free event.

“This year we really wanted to create a venue for people to try new things,” Fulton said. “We want to provide knowledge on the best of what outdoor recreation offers.”

Jonathan Stahl, Outdoor Programs assistant director and instructor, said exposure of local businesses and clubs, such as the Outing Club and Backcountry Lark, drew in more vendors than previous years.

“The point of the festival is to foster community relationships,” Stahl said, “and have fun overall.”

The event drew in people with any level of expertise. All classes, which included outdoor cooking, fly-fishing demonstrations and paddleboard yoga, were taught by professionals who want to nurture interest in going outside, Stahl said.

“Anyone that comes to the festival has easy access to hands-on experiences in kayaking, rock climbing or paddleboarding,” Stahl said. “We also promote environmental stewardship with the cleanup of Granite Point.”

Granite Point, which lies directly on the Snake River, is regularly showered with litter from forgetful visitors. The cleanup involved a small group of individuals traipsing up and down the rocky scenery to throw away the garbage.

Instructors provided thick gloves and large garbage bags to aid the process, allowing anyone to improve a corner of the environment. There was little structure involved in the project, resulting in a casual atmosphere during the cleanup, allowing participants to find the fun in throwing away garbage.

Rock climbing at Granite Point also proved a popular event of the day, as both time slots filled almost immediately. Shuttles offered participants transportation from the park to Granite Point.

RYAN PUGH | The Daily Evergreen
Attendees were provided with all necessary equipment.

Instructors offered simple techniques on how to properly use the harnesses, helmets and shoes.

The safety of participants was a key concern. WSU’s Outdoor Recreation Center employees taught techniques on how to use the ropes and avoid long falls. Multiple ropes laced the sides of the rock, allowing for a short wait time as each participant made their way up the wall.

Guests received little structure beyond the general safety guidelines. Free to climb on the rope of their choosing, participants like WSU freshman Mary Giese felt little pressure to exude perfection in the act.

“I have not had a lot of experience with climbing on real rock walls,” Giese said. “This is probably the easiest way to try something I’ve never experienced before.”

The entirety of the course intended to appeal to beginners. Anyone, even those with little-to-no practice in a daunting task like rock climbing, is encouraged to sign up and try something different, Stahl said.

“Part of the reason the festival is free is so that we can appeal to people who maybe want to try something but are not sure they will enjoy it,” Stahl said.
This open sentiment seemed to work and attracted many beginners.

Throughout the day, participants experienced the crisp air and view of the sparkling blue Snake River as they worked their way up the sturdy rocks. Instructors balanced cracking jokes and offering assistance to those in need.

The goal of the festival was the promotion of healthy, fun activities focused on the outdoors. This was achieved by the easygoing experience and friendly environment fostered by the employees of the festival, Fulton said.

The ORC regularly hosts trips and clinics throughout the school year at varying fees, such as backpacking and sunset paddleboarding, and they have levels ranging from beginning to advanced.