Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast Rock Climbing Club travels and climbs rain or shine

Monday, September 24, 2012
A member of the Rock Climbing Club looks for a spot to place his foot while he climbs. Photo by Kassie Gentry

The Rock Climbing Club at Southeast Missouri State University will travel to Ferne Clyffe State Park, part of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, on Oct. 7 to climb the sandstone bluffs and free-standing boulders.

"One of the best things I love about climbing is how fundamental and even primal it is," Rock Climbing Club member Brett Mello said. "On the wall, the climber is face to face with their basic fear of height and the limits of their bodies."

Ferne Clyffe provides hiking, traditional climbing, sport climbing, top-roping and bouldering. Traditional climbing is a form of free climbing and the climber does not use tools, whereas sport climbing allows climbers to use tools.Top-roping is a form of climbing that lets the climbers face the front of the rock and use gear to assist them. Bouldering is a form of climbing that focuses on strength because of the smaller steps that have to be taken throughout the climb.

"A lot of it is mental and if you go into it thinking you can't then you're probably not going to be able to do it," Rock Climbing Club member Brendon Smith said. "A lot of it is about footwork and technique, too. You don't have to be strong to get up the wall like most people probably think. Just don't over think what you're doing."

According to, Ferne Clyffe State Park is a small rock-climbing destination that is well known because of its proximity to Drapers Bluff and Cedar Bluff, which are both famous climbing spots. The park has 10 trails with climbs about 50 to 60 feet high. The club can use it for traditional climbing, top-roping and bouldering, which makes it suitable for beginners to intermediate climbers.

"It's a lot of fun because it has some easier routes for beginners, but also has some more challenging routes for those looking to put their skills to the test," Mello said.

Club membership costs $30 per year and includes all day and overnight trips, as well as a club T-shirt. Members of the club are provided with gear for climbing that includes a harness, a pair of shoes, chalk bags and equipment for various types of climbing.

"With it being only thirty bucks, we take eight to 10 trips a year and it also covers food, gear and transportation," Smith said. "The food alone is well over thirty dollars and same for the gas and gear. The rope we use is like two hundred bucks."

For non-members the cost for a day trip is $5 and an overnight trip is $10. Non-members can only take one trip then they must join the club.

"I started climbing about this time last September and I started out climbing in the Recreation Center, then I joined the club," Smith said. "I've done it every day here since joining."

The club will travel to places like Giant City State Park, Elephant Rocks and Jackson Falls. If trips are rained out, the group will go to Upper Limits, an indoor climbing facility in St. Louis.

For more information visit the "SEMO Rock Climbing Club" Facebook page.