What outdoor enthusiast hasn’t dreamt of trekking up a mountain or climbing up a ledge overlooking a beautiful pass?
The Catalyst sat down with Jamie Sarafan, a sophomore climbing instructor at the Kellogg Climbing Gym, to talk about the classes that are available at the gym this semester to help these outdoor dreams come true.
Sarafan, who has been climbing for about five years, has experience ice climbing, rock climbing, traditional climbing, and even guiding.
A huge variety of classes are available at the climbing gym, but Jamie mainly instructs an intro to anchor building, knots and hitches, and an intro to sport cleaning, all of which are prerequisite courses for future climbing leaders in the Outdoor Education Department.
To become a leader, candidates have to have a solid background in climbing and gain belay and lead certification through the Kellogg Climbing Gym. Also, prospective leaders have to take the prerequisite classes mentioned above as well as do a weekend-long climbing leader training.
“It is a big time commitment, but I absolutely love teaching people about all kinds of climbing,” Sarafan said.
Jamie’s classes are fit for everyone with belay certification from the climbing gym, but are especially tailored to those with at least few months of climbing experience. It is valuable for a climber at any level to take these courses because learning information from a new perspective can always add a level of depth to a climber’s experiences.
Going through the leadership process, climbers have the opportunity to learn so many different ways to do things and are able to improve on their skills.
“If you have an open mind when it comes to refreshing and expanding on your knowledge, these classes will be perfect for you,” said Sarafan. “Plus, they’re a lot of fun.”
Sarafan hopes that all of her students gain important knowledge and learn crucial safety techniques in her classes. All of the instructors here at CC are concerned about safety, and Sarafan especially tries to instill in people the idea that even if guiding or leading climbing for fun, safety measures are critical to keeping everyone safe.
Some people can be careless about climbing when it’s just for fun, and a main priority of the introductory climbing classes are to stress the thought that everyone should always use the highest degree of caution.
In a typical class, which meets usually for a couple of hours just once a week, a myriad of information is covered.
“The first thing I do is have people introduce themselves, as well as give me their goals for the class,” Sarafan said. “That is really helpful for me so that I can see what the students want to get out of the class, and can tailor my lessons to their wants and needs. After that, we go over the different styles of climbing. We then go over the different kinds of climbing knots.”
The class then moves into sport anchors, which are fixed bolts and anchors in the wall. The class concludes with traditional anchors, in which climbers use the natural environment to anchor themselves to the rock, the class gives attendees a full range of knowledge.
“Finally, we go over the technical aspects of creating an anchor, and that’s a typical class,” Sarafan said.
CC has given students great opportunities with expensive gear and education, and these classes afford an element of accessibility to people interested in climbing.
“Students so far are excited to take advantage of the climbing opportunities,” Sarafan said.