St. Paul climbing wall closed for reconstruction until fall

Renovations will make the wall less hazardous and allow for more freedom and challenge.

Come spring, some rock climbers are anxious to leave behind the St. Paul campus’s wall and find adventure in the great outdoors. And this year, climbers don’t have a choice.

The rock-climbing wall is closing today, but climbers will have a newly reconstructed wall by the time fall classes start.

Dewy Horstman, project manager for Nicros, the company building the new wall, said he wasn’t sure why the company that built the current wall used the model it did.

“It’s a very weird design,” he said, “with all kinds of features that stick out on the edges that could be a falling hazard.”

The current wall has worn down over the course of hundreds of thousands of climbs, Mitch Hoffman, associate program director for recreational sports, said.

Hoffman, who teaches two rock-climbing courses, worked closely with Nicros to choose the wall’s design and features.

“We’ve integrated a lot of features and things on (the wall) that we can utilize for the different programs that we do,” Hoffman said.

The new wall will be 36 linear feet long by 25 feet tall, with an approximate 1200-square-foot climbing surface.

The new wall will be safer to climbers and the material will bring a grittier texture, climbing instructor Matthew Toth said.

“You’ll be able to get more friction on certain types of climbing moves involving your feet,” he said. “It should be a much better design.”

Toth, a geological engineering senior, said the current wall – which has a rock-like appearance – is very route-specific, whereas the new wall will have flat, polygonal sides.

“It opens the horizons for the amount of routes and the types of routes you can set up on that wall,” he said. “I’m jealous because I’m not even going to be in school here by the time the wall is up.”

Hoffman said he wouldn’t know the project’s price tag until it’s finished.

Students, including those in the rock climbing class, who want to climb on campus aren’t at a total loss. A bouldering wall remains in the Minneapolis recreation center.

Bouldering, different from rope climbing, doesn’t use gear and is a shorter climb requiring more technical skill.

Bradley Fendler, a rock-climbing student, said at first he was upset about the wall closing before his climbing class ended.

“I was originally kind of bummed,” Fendler, a construction management senior, said. “But I’m excited to boulder ’cause it’s a great way to work on technical moves. It’s just something a little different.”

The new wall will be available in June to a summer youth program, but students will have to wait until fall for their first climb.