Climbing team reaches new heights

Hadley Carr and Margot Nissen

 “It was literally three dudes,” said senior Gabe Loscalzo.

 Loscalzo is one of the leaders of Wilson’s climbing club, along with fellow senior Kai Christie. The two first joined the club when it had just three members. Over the past three years, the club has grown to over 15 members. 

With a lack of leadership during the early stages of the pandemic, the climbing club “fell apart,” Christie said. 

As COVID became more widely understood, Loscalzo revived the club to fill their days during the pandemic.

“This was the only time I saw my friends, so it’s just like a really great way to interact with people,” Localzo said. 

The team would have to register spots to climb a month in advance—a policy that has since been disbanded. When practicing, the team must still wear their masks and use hand sanitizer often.

“We went maybe hundreds of times, three days a week, every week since everything reopened,” Loscalzo said. The team continues their three practices a week at Earth Treks, a climbing facility in Rockville, Maryland. With every new visit to the climbing gym, the club is often met with a new course to climb. After arriving, the team will disperse into groups based on different skill sets. The club’s climbs mainly consist of bouldering, a style of very short, intense climbs. Climbers have no ropes and don’t climb higher than 15 feet.

“Bouldering is the rawest form of climbing,” Christie said. “You’re focusing on each extremely hard move. You figure out how to do that one move for an hour; it’s like a puzzle.”

Climbing, particularly bouldering, requires a lot of thinking. When the club heads to the gym, the majority of bouldering is sitting on the ground, evaluating which angles and holds would be the best journey to the top.

 While the group does not participate in many competitions, Christie and Loscalzo are currently individually participating in a “Do it Yourself” competition at Earth Treks. In the competition, participants are responsible for logging their climbs, earning a point for each climb they complete. The prizes range from a discount at their retail store to new climbing shoes. 

Since they started in their sophomore years of high school, Christie and Loscalzo have enjoyed the experiences that climbing has allowed them. 

“After working on a climb for a while, there’s a sensation of pure joy and adrenaline,” Loscalzo said. 

“You can forget about anything else and focus on how [you] are going to make [your] next move. Forgetting everything else and putting your mind and body into the project,” added Christie. 

The club of 15 is connected by their love of climbing. “[What] started as a group of friends in sophomore year developed into more of a group of people who don’t share that much in common, but all climb together,” Loscalzo said. •