On September 8th, a group of seven students embarked on a bouldering trip to Horsetooth Reservoir, marking the first official Outdoor Program trip of the semester. Many first-timers got to experience the basics of bouldering, and some students revisited the sport in a new setting by learning to navigate the classic routes. 

Commonly known as the home of modern American bouldering, Horsetooth Reservoir was an ideal place to introduce students to the sport. Hidden among the sandstone cliffs are hundreds of routes that accommodate all levels. The group drove to Horsetooth in the early morning to familiarize themselves with popular climbing routes, and expanded indoor climbing skills to an outdoor setting. By afternoon, the group had mastered the basics.

Climbing is a popular niche of the Campus Rec community that freshmen students Kalaina Stroyan and Gregory James wanted to explore further on the trip. With  guidance and patience of the instructors, the students were able to better navigate the routes and find ease in the tedious sport.

I’ve been bouldering in the Rec since I got to school a few weeks ago, but this was my first time bouldering outside,” says Kalaina. “I thought it would be a great way to explore more of what Fort Collins has to offer.”  

Without the security of ropes and harnesses, outdoor bouldering calls for different skill sets than traditional climbing. Climbers must be able to traverse horizontally to get from point A to point B, as opposed to the vertical pathways on climbing walls. Students on the trip utilized chalk and special climbing shoes to help secure their grip on the rock. Bouldering mats were used to prevent injury from fall. 

As an inexperienced climber, Gregory explained, “the biggest challenge was having to try to adjust my strategy to each new problem. [The instructors] helped everyone feel accomplished and get the experience that they wanted.”

Kalaina remained diligent in overcoming the obstacles she faced during the trip. With support from instructors and the rest of the group, she built confidence in her climbing skills that she wasn’t expecting.

“I challenged myself on routes I didn’t think I would ever be able to do, and learned from everyone else on the trip,” she says. “If you’ve never bouldered outside before, it’s such a good challenge and really makes you want to get better.”

The Outdoor Program will continue hosting trips & events for members year round. For the full schedule, click here.

The trip was photographed by Nick Wasmundt. View the full photo gallery here