The climbing wall at CSU Campus Recreation sees hundreds of faces each day, beginners and experts alike. One face that may be familiar to climbers throughout campus is Ben Leonard, a second year Journalism student at Colorado State University. Ben has found his Recreation home at the campus climbing wall. 

Ben grew up in Minnesota, where he spent much of his free time racing motorbikes. He began climbing intermittently with his father about three years ago. Ben didn’t have the opportunity to take his climbing interest seriously until he began taking classes at CSU slightly over a year ago. Living in Corbett Hall, Ben had quick access to the Student Recreation Center. As the semester progressed, Ben and his friends found a rhythm in the times they used the wall. By showing up consistently during the week, members created a community to climb with and to do life with. 

When asked his biggest climbing accomplishment, Ben replied, “I am proud that I have used climbing as a vehicle to meet people with similar interests to myself. I love being outside with other people, climbing has always just been one way for me to do that.” Climbing is more than a sport; it’s a way to meet new people, a way to challenge your mind, and a way to learn more about yourself. Ben says he is thankful the climbing wall connected him with people who are kind, welcoming, and passionate about cheering each other on… as well as passionate about the outdoors.  

Ben spent most of his time at the indoor climbing wall toward the beginning of his climbing journey. Over time, friends taught him more of the skills he needed to climb outside. Lead climbing, trad, multi-pitch, and outdoor bouldering are all abilities Ben has learned over the last year. Bens ability to climb outside is the result of friends willing to teach him patiently. Ben says outdoors is the best way to climb, so he finds a way to get out almost every weekend. His favorite places to climb are in the Poudre Canyon, Vedauwoo in Wyoming, and in Clear Creek Canyon. He also climbs at Horsetooth, because it’s practically CSU’s backyard. 

Climbing is more than just a way to stay physically active. Ben believes the skills he has learned seep into almost every aspect of his life. “You learn how to manage your own head. Fear and risk can carry over into everyday decision-making. Climbing is a quick process that has allowed me to grow and mature my mind, thanks to my experiences and the people I share them with.” Ben uses climbing to challenge his thinking, working at routes like individual puzzles. It also tests his strength, pushing him to become strong in order to find balance in unstable situations. Furthermore, climbing challenges flexibility, forcing Ben to reach new limits. He’s improved this skill by taking yoga classes at Campus Recreation. Climbing is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and learn discipline while having fun. 

“The times when you are least motivated are the times you need to get out most, getting moving may not always be fun, but you will never regret meeting people or going outside to be active. Might as well spend your time with people you care about.” – Ben Leonard

Climbing is for anyone, but starting somewhere is the most important part. Campus Recreation members can explore what climbing has to offer simply by taking the chance. Belay certification classes are offered weekdays from 5-8pm. Other, more advanced level classes, are listed on the Campus Recreation website. But as Ben reminds us, making friends at the climbing wall can be a great resource to learn new technical climbing skills. 

Ben Lenard is an inspiring Rec’ing Ram, and this is how the Rec’s. “Climbing has been one of the most rewarding and most fun things I have ever done, there is always something new to learn and see. You can make the experience whatever you want to be.” This is Ben’s climbing journey, but he challenges you to find your own climbing experience. If you see Ben at the climbing wall, be sure to say hello. 


You can also catch Ben at the upcoming Harvest Hang climbing competition on Oct. 29th. The competition costs $12 for pre-registration or $14 on the day of. Registration is open now so sign-up by the 19th to receive a T-shirt. 


Campus Recreation is thankful that we get to tell Ben’s motivating story. We want to tell your story too! If you or anyone you know is a passionate Rec’ing Ram, send their name and a little about their journey to, or message us on social media to enter you and your friend into a giveaway drawing. 


Article by Bailey McCaffrey