Reaching New Heights at Climbing Club


WATCH AND OBSERVE Cllimbing club member Miles Fritzmather climbs one of the walls at the Austin Bouldering Project (ABP) while other members silently observe. The club meets every other Wednesday after school at ABP. On weeks the club is not at ABP, they meet in T207B on Mondays during lunch. photo courtesy of Aidan Stokes

Robby Cole, Staffer

Rock climbing has grown in popularity at LASA thanks to the Climbing Club, which is in its second year as a club. Local Austin climbing gyms, such as Austin Bouldering Project and Crux Climbing Center, have provided members with places to learn and practice. 

Having climbed for years, seniors Ryan Le and Aidan Stokes restarted the school’s Climbing Club, which had stopped running after COVID-19, this year. Since becoming captains in the club, Le and Stokes have hoped to establish an environment that will allow interested students to get involved and eventually pass the club on so that it can be enjoyed by future students.

“We wanted to make it into something just because there are a lot of people we know at LASA that climb a ton,” Stokes said. “So the way I saw it was if we add more structure to [the club], maybe it’ll take off the ground and then be something that we can leave behind for people below us.”

On Mondays, during lunch, students go to Arredondo’s room to watch climbing films, such as The Alpinist, and experience the climbing culture and community. On Wednesdays, students take trips to Austin Bouldering Project after school.

“Obviously, we can’t climb in school because there is no place to do that, but what we can do is watch climbing movies,” Stokes said. “Every week there’s something happening, but some weeks it’s Monday and other weeks it’s Wednesday, and Wednesday after school is when they [club members] have fun.”

Aside from strengthening their climbing abilities, club members are able to build a strong sense of community and friendship, according to Stokes. The club is open to students of all experience levels, and they welcome anyone looking to improve their skills or try climbing for the first time. Stokes said climbing is a demanding activity, but members support and encourage each other as they tackle difficult climbs. One of the ways Stokes helps out is by giving beta, which is specific advice on how to complete a difficult climb.

 “If you haven’t ever climbed before I can run you through how it goes with the basic etiquette and how the walls work,” Stokes said. “I can also give beta if people are confused about a problem. I climb it with them and figure out what points they’re missing or I can give form suggestions like body mechanics.”

David Arredondo, the club sponsor, has been climbing for seven years, and it has since become one of his favorite hobbies. According to Arredondo, climbing can be a humbling experience, although he still recommends trying it out. 

“I joined a climbing club when I was in college, and it was one of my favorite parts,” Arredondo said. “I got very involved in the club and helped run the club my senior year. That was a really wonderful experience, and I still have deep friendships from that time, so take the risk and come out.”

The strong community of climbers is very open and accepting of people, according to  Arredondo. He also said that you can find and get to know all sorts of interesting people from climbing. 

“I like the community of people, the type of people who end up rock climbing,” Arredondo said. “They’re usually really analytical, driven people, at least on some level. People who are used to trying hard and failing and trying hard again.”

Le has been practicing climbing for four years and uses his skill to compete in bouldering. According to Le, experience level doesn’t affect participation in the club, and helping new climbers is one of Le’s favorite parts of leadership.

“One of my most memorable moments with the club was when we took beginners on their first climb,” Le said. “Watching them progress from nervous and uncertain to confident and successful was incredibly rewarding. Seeing the joy and satisfaction on their faces made all of the hard work and planning worth it.”

According to the captains, the Climbing Club is low commitment and aims to provide a way for students to get into climbing and have a group to experience it with. Stokes reassures those who are interested in joining that climbing is nothing to be afraid of.  

“It’s called a climbing club, but most of it is falling club, right?” Stokes said. “So if you’re new, you haven’t ever done it before, [or] if you’re worried about how you’re going to look or how it’s going to be, I’d say that those are valid worries and that you’ve got to understand that’s where we all were when we started, and that’s where we still are. You’re joining a community of climbers and fallers, not just climbers.”