Every serious rock climber understands the importance of training. When Walla Walla University junior Tyler Humphries entered the power phase of his training plan, he realized that climbing gyms in the area lacked campus boards—training tools that allow climbers to develop better motor control and finger strength. “To get the power I needed for rock climbing, I needed this piece of equipment,” said Humphries, a mechanical engineering major. He decided to put his education to the test and design a campus board from scratch to complement the university’s rock climbing wall.
Humphries designed the board under the advisement of Louie Yaw, WWU professor of engineering. “I would make an AutoCAD drawing of it and take it to him and he’d revise it … we’d kind of go back and forth,” Humphries said. “I got to learn about the revision process of engineering by basically just going to him.” Humphries also communicated with Marvin Denney, chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education, throughout the process to work out logistics.
“Engineering knowledge is required to design the [board] to be strong enough and safe,” Yaw said, making Humphries a good fit for the project. But his passion for climbing made it personal. “It became evident as the project progressed that this was something Tyler was really interested in due to his rock climbing hobby.”
Committed to see the project through, Humphries planned to fund the campus board with his own cash; but as costs grew, he roped in the support of an Associated Students of Walla Walla University senator to get financial assistance. Humphries created a bill and presented it before ASWWU Senate, where it received an affirmative vote.
With designs and funding squared away, only one step remained: construction. Humphries, Yaw, and sophomore mechanical engineering major Grant Hartman spent 2 1/2 days building and installing the campus board in the Winter Education Complex, where it’s now used in tandem with the rock wall.
WWU carries a reputation for grooming rock climbers, and Humphries admits the role that the university’s climbing wall played in turning his hobby into a serious sport. “When I came to Walla Walla, I went to the climbing wall every day and really started improving my climbing,” Humphries said. With the new campus board in place, he hopes that the WEC will provide fuller training opportunities for other climbers looking to harness their passions.
The campus board has three different styles of rungs that offer three levels of difficulty, and a full workout takes about 30 minutes. Climbing facilities are open for students Monday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Posted Nov. 3, 2017