Festival encourages people to try new things

KATIE ARCHER, Evergreen reporter

People participated in free outdoor activities during the sixth annual Palouse Outdoor Festival on Saturday at Wawawai County Park and Granite Point.

Some of the activities included rock climbing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Granite Point is where Pratim Kundu rock climbed for the first time.

“It’s hard. I knew it would be hard,” Kundu said.

Kundu is a postdoctoral research associate and goes to the Student Recreation Center regularly where he saw advertisements for the event. He had seen the climbing wall at the SRC but had never tried it before. He said he might try the climbing wall at the SRC after his experience at Granite Point.

“I hope it will be easier there,” he said.

Kundu wasn’t the only one experiencing rock climbing for the first time.

After getting to the top of her climb, third-year vet student Kristin Wreggelsworth said she is scared of heights. She said she would like to use rock climbing to move past her fear.

“I don’t like being afraid of anything,” Wreggelsworth said.

Two of the belayers were Arturo Gavilanes, coordinator of the University Recreation (UREC) challenge program, and Dominik Vlaha, junior geology major.

Gavilanes works at the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) and has rock climbed for 10 years.  He said he likes the workout rock climbing provides.

Vlaha said rock climbing can be dangerous, but through training and classes it can be safe.

“It makes you feel alive,” Vlaha said.

Outdoor Programs Coordinator Matt Wagner said there were about 40-50 people who participated in rock climbing.

Over at Wawawai County Park, people participated in aquatic activities. At one point, the winds were high enough that staff stopped boats from going out on the water, said Jonathan Stahl, assistant director of UREC adventure programs and experimental learning.

Stahl called the event a “major team effort” and said about 10-15 staff members worked to organize it. He said the planning has gotten easier over the years, but they start planning a year in advance and try to have it as a part of UREC’s all-access week.

While Stahl does not know the exact numbers, but he said a lot of people go on the ORC trips because of the Palouse Outdoor Festival.

“I feel like we saw a lot of students,” Stahl said. “That was really our big goal for this year.”