Valentine Climb now opened to couples, public

Partners must use communication skills to climb SRC ladder.



The Giant’s Ladder towers over the outside portion of the UREC. It will be the location of this year’s Valentine Climb.

SYDNEY BROWN, Evergreen life editor

Due to lack of registration for the Valentine Climb, officials in charge of the event and clinic decided to open it to the general public.

The Valentine Climb is a University Recreation-sponsored special event during which couples participate in a belay and climbing clinic on UREC’s 72-foot ladder. One person stays on the ground with a rope attached to their partner, and the one climbing must try to make it up the rungs of the ladder.

“It’s something that requires physical support from your partner,” UREC Programming Director Joanne Greene said. “You have to be almost completely reliant on that person, which sparks a conversation between partners.”

This is one of the main goals of partnered events in general, said Arturo Gavilanes, coordinator of the challenge program and the climbing wall. UREC aims to facilitate challenging programs, which educate through experience.

“You’re not just talking about how to communicate better,” Gavilanes said of the Valentine Climb’s structure. “You’re put into a situation where you are basically forced to communicate with your partner, which can be uncomfortable.”

Gavilanes said he noticed many couples walk away from the experience with more knowledge about each other than they bargained for. Before taking the clinic, couples may not have realized how they communicate and whether they have solid team-building skills.

Instructors are there to provide physical safety, he said, but they generally won’t step in to help a couple communicate. While the course can be difficult, he said this helps couples gain some perspective.

“We try to empower them to make their own decisions,” Gavilanes said. “That’s why we just let them work through their own conflicts up there, and we’ll step in if we have to.”

It’s important to note that the giant ladder is not as daunting as it may seem, Greene said. Because of the involvement of well-trained instructors, there is a slim chance of someone being seriously injured.

A common misconception about the wall, Gavilanes said, is everyone should make it to the top.

“Honestly, most college students only make it to the fifth rung,” he said. “The goal should be to challenge yourself, even if it’s with small advances and realistic goals.”

The Valentine Climb will be from 5 – 7 p.m. today at the Student Recreation Center.