Climbing to the top

As Queen blared through the speakers and thrummed through the floor, the person belaying stood his ground while the climber reached for the hold just out of his reach.His face strained in concentration as he tried again, but it remained out of his reach as those who watched yelled “Go Greg,” urging him on.

Greg Kallfa missed again and scaled down the wall, only to try again later.

“I’m not even close to done,” he said.

Kallfa took first place in the “advanced” and the “dynamic” categories, competing with over 40 competitors on the Feb. 2 rock climbing competition-the first to be hosted by Castleton State College at Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center.

“It’s bigger than anything we’ve ever done since I’ve been here,” Kallfa said of the competition as he sat stretching.

The competition, coordinated by Castleton’s rock climbing club president Nick Korda, was attended by several nearby colleges including Landmark and University of Vermont (UVM).

Maureen Wholley said she was competing “just to get out there and let people see it’s an awesome sport.” Wholley, the one-armed president of the newly formed rock climbing team at UVM tied for first place in the women’s “beginning” category.

After starting to work in the rock climbing wall, Korda began to coordinate rock climbing trips including some competitions.

“It’s not a big ego fest,” Korda said after lowering the “Open” sign made from duct tape in the rock climbing wall window. “It’s about proving yourself and having a good time.”

Korda climbed down from the top of the lower wall on holds whitened by the residue of climbers’ chalk dust.

Next to the holds, different combinations of white, green, blue, and red tape mark favorite paths up and around the wall. The window and sills are plastered with rock climbing and outdoor sport memorabilia.

The once quiet, blank room has burst with attendance by experts and beginners alike and has been “customized” by the rock climbing staff including Korda and Kallfa.

They stressed that no experience or equipment is needed because they are willing to teach those willing to learn, noting the increase in attendance.

“A complete beginner can come in and still have fun,” Kallfa said.

Along with getting college students involved with rock climbing, the staff is targeting high school and community groups to teach them the basics of rock climbing.

“A lot of people get hooked,” said Deanna Tyson, the rock climbing wall supervisor who wants to see a rock climbing competition on campus.

Though the rock climbing club is becoming more visible, it has been around since the 80’s said Korda.

Back then they would practice climbing in the gorge behind Castleton building. An attempt at creating a rock climbing team faltered a couple of years ago.

For now, they are back on their feet and planning another competition for March 16.

Of competitions Korda said, “The thing about climbing is you can have the worst day and go to a competition and have the best day.

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