Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Rock Climbing Club, Don’t Take It For Granite

Friday, November 8, 2019
Club President John Bowdle belaying a club member at Red Rocks Conservation Area, Nevada during spring break 2017.
Photo by Jelani Days.

As Southeast freshmen go through the Student Recreation Center during tours, something that may catch their eye is the ceiling-high rock wall in the corner of the main gym.

The Rock Climbing Club meets at that wall Monday through Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. The club is open to everyone, from people who climb all the time to those who never have.

“We teach anyone who wants to learn at the wall, and when we feel they’re capable, we’ll let them come outside with us,” Club President John Bowdle said.

The main activity the club participates in is climbing outside, but along with that is camping, hiking and on rest days, canoeing. The club also participates in rock climbing competitions around the area.

“We do two competitions regularly, one in Batesville, Arkansas, called King of the Crag at Jamestown and another spring competition in Carbondale, Illinois, that SIU’s club puts on,” Bowdle said.

Rock climbing competitions vary, but they can take place indoors and outdoors and are split into different divisions. Competitors climb the hardest route in their division, and there is also a division for most routes climbed. Competitors want to climb the hardest routes and the most routes during outdoor and indoor competitions. They want to climb the fastest during indoor competitions only.

The club has about 30 members. The main reasons John Bowdle and other people join the club are for something to do and as a way to meet people their freshman year. As the members get acclimated, it becomes a way to challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zones and try to climb outdoors.

“I wanted to become president because I wanted the club to be successful and I wanted to experience leading and organizing a group,” Bowdle said.

Club members take outdoor trips every weekend, and during spring break, they will trave to Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Last year, the club took a trip to Joshua Tree National Park in California.

“My favorite memory would be going to Joshua Tree last year; it was a long trip, so everyone bonded, Joshua Tree is a very unique place that looks almost alien,” Bowdle said “It’s sort of like a family, I know everybody in the club pretty well and still talk to people who have graduated.”

For more information on the Rock Climbing Club, contact or visit