By Kylee Perez, Contributing Writer
When you think of a typical college student’s weekend, you might think of hanging out in coffee shops, playing intramural sports, or going downtown. But scaling up the side of a mountain?
That’s exactly what Lilly McKinney did this fall when she planned and organized a rock climbing trip for the Furman University Outdoor Club.
“I became interested in rock climbing midway through high school and now, it’s one of my very favorite activities,” said McKinney ’14 (Columbia, S.C.). “I wanted to share something I loved with the group and they were eager to try something new.”
McKinney and nine other members of the outdoor club traveled to Gastonia, North Carolina in November for a rock climbing trip at Crowders Mountain. The group included the club’s staff advisor, Clayton Burton, and McKinney’s father, Stephen ’82.
Most of the students involved were beginners, making the 1,625-foot mountain that sits an hour northeast of Greenville the ideal destination.
“Crowders Mountain offers a lot of very good beginner routes and some more challenging routes,” McKinney said. “Everyone had a chance to experience climbing and to practice techniques and basics. The main goal was to just have fun.”
That’s the goal of the Furman University Outdoor Club, which take students on a variety of outdoor trips, ranging in everything from hiking and mountain biking to skiing and white water rafting. The club has been around for nearly four decades.
One of the club’s favorite places is the mountains of North Carolina because of it’s rock climbing spots. Chimney Rock Park and Rumbling Bald Mountain are also a short drive from Furman’s campus.
On the group’s trip to Crowders Mountain, the students cut their teeth on a number of beginner courses. But even McKinney, who’s been climbing since high school, and Alecia Nichols ’16, a competitive rock climber from Chesterfield, Va., could find a challenge.
“We did all the setup and beginner routes,” Nichols said. “Then, I asked our instructors about more challenging routes in the area. One of the instructors took me to a different area to climb some of the harder routes. It was really fun.”
For Piedmont, S.C. native Aaron Huff ’14, the climbing trip gave him a new perspective on a familiar hobby. Although he climbs once a week at the Mountain Goat gym in Greenville, this was his first experience climbing outside.
“The best part is the people,” Huff said. “The hardest part is looking down.”
Furman University Outdoor Club