24 hour Climb-a-thon: Whitman Climbing Team embarks on ultimate fundraising effort

Charlotte Elliott, Campus Life Editor

While the average college student may have been out at a frat party, having a cozy movie night or ordering Domino’s, the Whitman Climbing Team spent their Friday night and Saturday morning taking on a 24 hour Climb-a-thon. The Climb-a-thon was an attempt to raise funds for the team’s upcoming competition season.

On Nov. 4, members of the team gathered at the climbing gym to support the teammates who would be taking the first slots of the challenge. From there, each member took their turn, whether that be the lucky 5 p.m. slot or the less lucky 3 a.m. time. However, no matter what time they were climbing, the team was energized with good music and camaraderie. 

Junior Livvie Bright and senior Wako Soma both arrived at the gym around midnight to prepare for their slot. For Bright, this was a more pleasant time than during previous Climb-a-thons, but she was still firmly outside of her normal sleep schedule.

“During my first year, Maya and I had a 3 a.m. slot, which was a little bit too late for me. It was just kind of fun, crazy energy vibes,” Bright said. “I’m usually a ‘go-to-bed-at-10:30’ kind of person, so it is good for me to have a little excitement every once in a while.”

Soma became less involved with the climbing team after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she was excited to come and help the team take on the challenge.

“I was involved in it more during my first year, but it’s nice that, even though I haven’t been going to practices, they still are super open to allowing anyone to be part of this Climb-a-thon,” Soma said.

Bright reported being in a similar position with the team, but she has maintained friendships with other members of the team and enjoyed the chance to be part of it once more.

Bright additionally commented on some of the challenges the Climbing Center has been having with funding.

“In general, the Climbing Center has been really struggling with a lot of budget issues, so gym hours have been reduced, which is hard for everybody,” Bright said. “We’ve had to be really strict about enforcing charging people for shoes and [other] stuff, which I personally think is a big barrier to equity in the Climbing Center.”

Senior Cassidy Washburn is one of the six captains that leads the Climbing Team, and they spoke a bit about the overall goal of the Climb-a-thon.

“The goal of this is to raise money, so we asked family, friends and lots of different people to donate,” Washburn said. “You can donate per lap, so however many laps we end up doing or your specific child/grandchild, whatever, ends up climbing. You can [also] just donate a flat amount, and then that money goes to [the] Climbing Team for competitions and travel in the spring.”

The Whitman Climbing Team has had a lot of success in recent years with their competitions. They came in first place overall at the Northwest Collegiate Climbing Circuit last year, with individual first place finishers in both the men’s and women’s sections and a third place finisher in the women’s section. Participation in competitions is funded by a mix of ASWC funding and the money they get from fundraisers like the Climb-a-thon.

The Climbing Team covers all costs related to competing and being a part of the team allows anyone who wants to to participate in the competitions. For Washburn, competitions are often the best parts of being on the team.

“Competitions are generally really fun, and [they are] a great time to cheer on your teammates and also just hang out with people,” Washburn said. “If we travel, we stay there overnight for one or two nights, so it’s a great chance to get to know everyone. The road trips are really fun; it’s a great group of people.”

Being part of a tight-knit group of people is appealing for many members of the team. Sophomore Owen Blaine appreciates how inclusive the group is, even when he joined while not knowing much about climbing. Blaine emphasized how grateful he is to the team captains for the support they provide the team.

“I would thank my captains for just being really awesome people. I look up to them all,” Blaine said. “I respect them all; they’re really good at teaching people.”

The Whitman Climbing Team is open for anyone to join, whether you are a national champion or have never even been in the presence of a climbing wall. For more information, you can find them on Presence or follow their Instagram @whitmanclimbing.