Rock wall face lift: New mat improves safety for climbers


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Katrina Jenkins

The climbing wall in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation building was closed from mid-May to late June. While this may have frustrated several of the regular climbers there, it was done for a good reason: to replace the old mat that was there as a cushion in case any of the climbers fell.

“We used to have these big crash pads,” said student worker Ean Patrick, who has been working at the Climbing Wall for over a year.

“There wasn’t enough protection on the old mat so we had to drag around these big pads in case you fell.”

Many would agree that the previous mat looked run down and less safe. The old mat was made up of a dark blue material about 6-inches thick and had been in the room ever since the wall first opened. While renovations had been made to the wall about six years ago, the floor and mat had been left alone.

Patrick explained how the previous mat used to be much lower and made up of different materials which would cause chalk to stick to the floor.

Student worker Ben Prescott explained how there was so much chalk dust caught in the mat that “when you hit it dust would come flying out.”

First year graduate student Holden Ray has been climbing at HPER for three years, and also has previous experience climbing.

“There used to be cracks in the mat,” Ray said. “I’m not worried about rolling my ankle now.”

Ray added that he knew of a few students who had tripped or caught their foot in the cracks of the previous mat, which could have led to a potential injury.

Located in HPER room 110, the new mat is 6-inches thicker than the previous one and is a light grey color, which many students and workers thought made the whole room brighter.

“It just looks safer,” Ray said.

The climbing wall is 2,500 square feet of top rope and lead climbing area, and also includes a 1,400
square foot boulder in the middle of the facility, according to the UNO website.

The climbing wall includes features for both experienced and rookie climbers.

With safety being the main concern, it is said that a climber would be able to fall from the top and be perfectly fine landing on the new mat, which is something all climbers can take comfort in.