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

Article by Bailey McCaffrey

What would you do if you lost feeling in your feet, climbing 19,600′ above sea level in the Ecuadorian Andes, with only 1,000 to the peak? This past January, a student from Colorado State University was posed with this challenge, as he attempted to summit a volcano over 20,000’ tall. Maclean Freund was on an international trip with CSU Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Program, with eight other students and two trip leaders by his side. Richard Salas was Freund’s ropes partner throughout the journey, and also attends CSU. Salas decided he would do whatever it took to get Freund to the top. Salas volunteered his stomach, the only warm place within miles, for Freund to thaw his frozen toes on. The duo peaked the volcano among the other nine team members. At the top they stood closer to the sun than any other point on the earth. 

The Outdoor Program left Colorado on the 2nd of January and landed in Quito, Ecuador, with high hopes of summiting not one, but two South American volcanoes, Cayambe, peaking at 18,996′, and Chimborazo, peaking at 20,564′. Their dreams came true only eight days later, after successfully standing on top of the second peak. 

So, What Did it Take?


Andy Nelson and Rodney Ley are the Coordinator and Assistant Director for the Outdoor Program and took the lead of this fourteen-day excursion through Ecuador. A year and a half in the making led to a worthwhile reality. After careful consideration of high altitude volcanoes, accessible mountain peaks, welcoming culture, capability, and challenge, the two landed on Ecuador as the destination of choice.

Cayambe and Chimborazo were picked as the perfect adventure, with accommodations such as huts to basecamp and seasoned guides to help lead the way, and challenges including the unknown terrain behind every switchback. The logistics came together as the team began to obtain the necessary equipment and built their vision of what the trip would become.


The team began training in the fall of 2017 by climbing and hiking at high altitudes, maintaining good health, and preparing themselves mentally for the long trek ahead. Grant Williams, one of the students who attended the trip states, “Mountaineering is 99% a mind game. Fighting the thoughts of failure was the hardest part.” Training your mind is certainly a difficult task, but every person on the trip was able to fight the internal battle and be confident in their own ability to make it to the top. Nelson wasn’t surprised when the team successfully summited both volcanoes, especially with how strong each person was coming into the adventure.

The Grit of the Journey

The eleven students landed in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. In their first few days, the group stayed at one of the oldest haciendas in the region and experienced the beautiful taste of the Ecuadorian culture. They began acclimating for the hikes, starting with multiple shorter hikes, at 13,000’ and 15,000’. Soon it was time to push their limits. They got to the base of Cayambe, a volcano in the Cordillera Central Range. They began the summit at 1:00 a.m., pushing through thick fog and snow. The team conquered Cayambe at 7:00 a.m., proud of themselves and the rest of their team. In celebration, they marched down knowing they had another volcano to summit in only a few short days.

Chimborazo was the larger of the two volcanos, and would bring its own challenges. The Outdoor Program stayed in the Carrell Hut, located on the volcano at 15,000′. They began their ascent at 11:00 p.m. with a long night of ice climbing and deep snow hiking ahead. Counting their steps up the mountain, they were able to keep their minds from wandering off. The entire team summited the mountain at 7:00 a.m. on January 10th. With cold hands and feet, they stumbled to the peak with enough joy to not care as their tears froze on their faces.

Team members agree that the success wouldn’t have been possible without the unending support and encouragement of their teammates. If you are interested in high altitude mountaineering like the students brave enough take on this challenge, then the Outdoor Program is a great way to start. Get familiar with the outdoors through backcountry skiing trips, climbing clinics, and other hiking events led by the Outdoor Program student leaders. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself on top of the world. 

Congratulations to each member who achieved greatness on this journey, pushed the limits, and hiked away with an experience of a lifetime.


Ecuador Trip 2018

The outdoor program at Campus Recreation is kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month with an exciting trip to the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. Aileen Palma, the trip coordinator and a student at CSU, envisioned this excursion as an opportunity for students with Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx backgrounds and a shared passion for the outdoors to connect and celebrate with one another.

The camping trip is taking place over the 16th and 17th of September, and will consist of star gazing in a designated “dark sky forest”, a visit to the great sand dunes, and hiking through the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range.

“I want this to be a good opportunity for any level of outdoor enthusiast. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert, this is a great chance to meet people from the same background and connect deeper through the outdoors,” states Palma. 

San Luis Valley was selected as the destination of choice due to its large amount of Hispanic culture. Founded in 1851 by Hispanic settlers, it rings in as Colorado’s oldest town. The heritage of this place dates back much further, which is seen through the art, food, celebrations, and music. On this trip students will address their own background similarly, looking at the ways their ancestors found an appreciation for nature. Aileen and Jovan, (co-facilitators), are looking forward to exploring the San Luis Valley, and also to bringing new connections and experiences back to their Fort Collins home.


The Outdoor Program at Campus Recreation is hosting the Annual spring semester bouldering competition… Spring Cling! April 14, 2015. All ability levels are welcome, and space is filling up fast. Sessions are divided into three segments, with half the competitors participating in the early session from 4:00 – 6:00 pm, and the second half competing from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. The top climbers from each session will then go head-to-head in the finals from 8:00 – 10:00 pm. Prizes are awarded to the winners, and a raffle will take place during the finals with tons of amazing giveaway items. 


Registration for the event is $12.00, and $14.00 if you register the day-of. Students and Rec Center Members are invited to compete, and can sign-up at the Outdoor Program desk in the lobby of the Rec Center. 


Colorado State Students Scale 18,460 ft Volcano in Mexico


While a majority of students were enjoying time at home during winter break, a group of 11 Colorado State University students, alumni, and staff were ascending an 18,460 ft volcano in Mexico, one of three attempted during the expedition. The 10-day trip, which was hosted by Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Program, set new personal-best altitude records for all the students involved.


The expedition was led by Rodney Ley, Assistant Director of the Outdoor Program, Andy Nelson, Coordinator of the Outdoor Program, and Jim Davidson, a seasoned trip leader. Group members included CSU alumnae Natalie Gerding, Ben Gerding, Brian King, and Kristen Dean, and CSU students Richard Salas, Dean Anderson, Kari Lanphier, and Daniel Shugert.


La Malinche Peak


The group arrived in the quiet town of Puebla, Mexico on January 2, 2015. Located in south central Mexico, Puebla is known for its colorful festivals and delicious street food. After enjoying an evening of the Mexican culture, the group awoke at 6:00 am to scale the first of their three planned summits, La Malinche. At 14,600 ft, La Malinche is taller than any of the 14’ers located in Colorado and allowed the group a chance to acclimate to the conditions and altitudes they would be continually facing in the days to come.


Rime Ice and 60 mph Winds on Iztacchuatal


After a successful summit attempt on La Malinche, the group traveled from Puebla to a “microwave hut” on the Iztacchuatal volcano, the next peak on the agenda at 17,160 ft. On January 6, a clatter of alarms rang through the small hut at midnight, and the team packed up their gear and began their ascent. The conditions were brutal to start off, cold, icy, and dark, and would only get worse. As the team climbed higher, the conditions continued to deteriorate, with wind gusts hitting 60 mph. At 16,000 ft, the ice conditions became so extreme that the group was forced to turn around, but not before shattering their personal altitude records by 1,600 ft.



The Final Summit, Orizaba Volcano


After the difficult weather conditions of Izatacchuatal forced the group to forgo summiting, they were renewed with a strong determination to make it to the top of their last peak, volcano Orizaba. The third highest peak in North America, Orizaba is 18,460 ft and has a glacier of 2,000 vertical ft at the top. Another midnight wake-up call on January 9 gets the group up and moving into the night for the final climb of the trip. 10 of the 11 trip members set out on the journey, with one member making the hard decision to stay back. The ascent was demanding, due to both the high elevation and the icy conditions of the glacier. Steps had to be kicked into the ice by the team leader, and the group took turns with this strenuous task. 500 feet of the summit, the icy slope and exposure forced the team to take an alternate path to the top, but they pressed on, motivating one another and supporting their team. Finally, the group found themselves standing at 18,460 ft, taking in the amazing views of the surrounding landscapes.


Trip of a Lifetime


The memories made and the journey shared had a lasting affect on all the team members. Rodney Ley recorded in the trip journal during the group’s travels home “Could we really have gone so far, climbed so high, and in such a short time? What a better way to live life fully than to force it into the corner, wake up at 11 pm, choke down oatmeal, strap on crampons and hike above and into the clouds.”