ABC Sunshine Coast radio and online – “Student climbers aiming high”

Aiming high: Nick Foster and Stefanie Wolf scout the route upwards.

Aiming high: Nick Foster and Stefanie Wolf scout the route upwards. Photo: Rowan Schindler

Published on ABC Sunshine Coast website.


Sunshine Coast climbers aiming high

Rock climbing is experiencing a growth on the Sunshine Coast, with a plethora of scenic climbing destinations, it is easy to see why people are taking to the extreme sport.

The adrenaline sport is becoming a favourite outdoor activity for many in the region, particularly with students at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

USC Activate, the outdoor recreation club affiliated with the university and run by students, was established less than 12 months ago and already boasts over 80 members.

According to club President Abe Burford, 20, the club has a core group of around 20 students who are devoted to climbing.

“We’ve got ourselves a couple of grand worth of climbing equipment, and yeah it’s really enabling us to get out and do some of the amazing rock climbing that’s available on the Sunshine Coast,” he says.

“I’d like to see the sport continue to grow to some extent, it’s one of the great things about rock climbing in my opinion is that it is a bit exclusive.

“I definitely want to see it grow to a point where theres a healthy community of people who are passionate about the sport and passionate about the environment.”

Stefanie Wolf climbs "Does it have a chevy motor", 23. While Abe Burford belays and Nick Foster snaps a photo.

Stefanie Wolf climbs “Does it have a chevy motor”, 23. While Abe Burford belays and Nick Foster snaps a photo. Photo: Rowan Schindler

Fellow USC Student Nick Foster, 22, says the coast is perfect for climbing.

“I only really picked it up as a pretty full on thing earlier this year, seriously, only four or five months,” he says.

“The coast is quite varied, there’s lot of new sport crags, and at the same time there’s a lot of old traditional routes and a few aid climbs I think too.

“In terms of difficulty, yeah, from very, very easy and introductory to hard and challenging routes like at Mount Coolum.

“It’s great to see the sport growing, we’ve got the perfect environment for it.”

Cold and hard: A weathered bold and shackle.

Cold and hard: A weathered bold and shackle. Photo: Rowan Schindler

Bringing the community together

According to Sunshine Coast climber Royce Genn, the climbing community has always been somewhat fragmented.

“I’ve been involved with many climbers over many years and you’ve got the purists and traditionalist climbers who don’t want to bring all these newbies to the sport and their protected secret climbing spots,” he says.

Mr Genn is currently in the process of building an indoor climbing gym in Kawana, scheduled for opening in late June*.

He says he has been overwhelmed with interest before the doors have opened.

“It’s blown me away, the amount of interest that I’ve been given off social media and that sort of thing since I’ve basically put pages up and announced to various people that we’re doing this project,” he says.

“I was actually more surprised by the response I’ve gotten so far before we’ve even opened the doors or shown people what exactly it is that we’re doing.”

He says that he wants to provide a place for the community to come together, increase climbing skills and education, as well as getting new people into the sport.

“Initially I knew we’d have the local climbing fraternity would be keen to come and train here and there’s actually a lot of really good climbing here on the coast that I think the general public are completely oblivious to,” he says.

“There’s quite a few series of climbing comps that are run through South East Queensland or Australia wide and climbing is actually currently on the list for consideration for the 2020 Olympics**, and it’s actually got a fair chance from what I’ve heard so far.

“I’d really love to put together a group of climbers here that are competitive, that we can take down to Brisbane and put them up against the Brisbane climbers.”

Climbers hands: The rock takes it's toll on athletes.

Climbers hands: The rock takes it’s toll on athletes. Photo: Rowan Schindler

Please note: Update since publication.

*Rockit Climbing Gym’s open date has been postponed until August 2013, due to contractor delays.

** The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had yet to rule on Climbing being an Olympic sport. Since the date of publication, the IOC has ruled that climbing will not be included in the Rio Games.


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