By Sean Robinson, Reporter
Kaleigh Duffy’s hands are blistered and bleeding. Beneath her lie dozens of sharp mountain peaks. Her muscles ache in exhaustion, yet she’s never felt so proud of an accomplishment.
“The most memorable moment of the trip was when I first got to the top of the mountain while rock climbing,” said Duffy, a junior, after attending a trip to Golden, Colo. with UNO’s Outdoor Venture Center during her fall semester of 2012.
“The view is so much sweeter after the climb up. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment.”
UNO’s Outdoor Venture Program, housed in the campus’ HPER building, has been hosting reduced price trips to help students acquire outdoor skills and renting camping equipment for several years.
A recent ice climbing trip, scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 19, attracted 10 students.
“Participants would be given an orientation to ice climbing technique and tools and then spend the rest of the day doing it,” said Joel Bauch, assistant director of the Outdoor Venture Center.
However, due to the unseasonably warm weather, the ice trip was canceled. Thawing ice created unsafe conditions.
Nevertheless, the Outdoor Venture Center continues to garner many student followers as workshops that teach students everything from snowshoeing to wilderness first aid gaining popularity.
This spring break the Center is planning a rock-climbing trip to Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma from March 16 to the 22, with no thawing ice involved to melt their plans.
“The Outdoor Venture Center provides an opportunity for those that want something more adventurous,” Bauch said.
“It provides equipment and training for people to get off the beaten path and do some exploring in remote and sometimes wild environments.”
From tents that fit up to six people costing $12 to Coleman grills costing $8.50 to rent for a day, the high-variety of equipment offered for rent to UNO students comes at a reduced price.
Students can rent up to one month in advance and need to pay a $25 security deposit refundable once the equipment is turned back in.
Open during the week from noon until 7 p.m., the Outdoor Venture Center also operates the climbing wall in HPER.
“Students primarily use the climbing wall and equipment rental center,” Bauch said. “The economy has hit our trips pretty hard. It is just more expensive to travel long distances than it used to be.”
While Bauch said only about a third of all universities even offer an outdoor program as extensive as UNO’s Outdoor Venture Center, no expansion plans for the program are being implemented as of now.
For the upcoming semester, a backpacking trip and summer rock-climbing trip are also planned.
“It’s a chance to learn new activities that can’t be taught in a classroom or gym,” Bauch said.
“It expands their understanding of what they are capable of accomplishing.”
For Duffy, she never imagined she could accomplish tackling and climbing a whole mountain.
“I would definitely go again,” Duffy said. “It’s planned for you, reasonably priced, with some of the best people, and gives you an experience unlike many others.”