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How I fell in love with Rock Climbing at Carleton

George details his rock climbing experience at Carleton!

George details his rock climbing experience at Carleton!


Your first year of college, especially those first few weeks, is a period of immense and rapid change. Just over the summer before my freshman year, I went from living in New York City, to working in the middle of nowhere upstate NY, to Northfield. I expected tons of change: new friends, a new room, new classes, and a new environment. I tried tons of new hobbies and sports; not expecting any of them to stick.

One of those hobbies I tried was rock climbing, a sport I had done several times throughout my childhood. It was always a super expensive hobby in New York, with day passes being upwards of $25, and monthly memberships being easily $100. I always enjoyed going to birthday parties and with friends, but it was never really something I saw myself committing to.

That all changed when I got to Carleton and discovered one of the places I would be spending most of my time:

The Bouldering Cave!

Carleton bouldering cave
Carleton’s Bouldering Cave

The bouldering cave is open to all students for free, with free chalk and free shoe rentals. It’s open almost every day (except Saturdays) for around 4-5 hours. It’s one of the best free resources on campus, and I highly recommend everyone check it out!

Climbing Team

For those who want to get more serious about climbing, there’s also a Climbing Club / Team on campus, that meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 9-10:30 pm. This is a great way to boulder in a slightly more organized way, with exercises and drills to improve climbing skills. The Climbing Club is a super supportive and friendly atmosphere, with people of all skill levels from beginner to national competitors.

Carleton college climbing team at Boulderfest Minneapolis
Some of the Carleton Climbing Team at a competition in the Twin Cities

Trips to the Twin Cities

If you don’t want to compete in a comp, but still want to visit bigger (and better) climbing gyms than Carleton’s, there are several trips to climbing gyms in the cities weekly. Completely free of charge, you can visit gyms like Vertical Endeavors and Minneapolis Bouldering Project!

students standing in front of rock climbing wall

Outside Climbing

Carleton’s location in Southeast Minnesota means it has close access to lots of outdoor climbing, both bouldering and top roping. If you don’t have a car or means of accessing any routes, CANOE (Carleton Association of Nature and Outdoor Enthusiasts runs trips to places like Sandstone Minnesota for outdoor climbing in the warmer seasons, and ice climbing in the winter.

George on sandstone wall rock climbing
Me climbing in Sandstone, Minnesota on a CANOE trip!

Climbing outside of Carleton

george standing holding the rock climbing wall
Me climbing at Vital West Harlem in NYC! Behind the photo: George Perry and Helen

I took my newfound passion for rock climbing home to New York City over winter break, where I went climbing with friends from Carleton! Shoutout to George Perry and Helen Stone (who you might have seen on the Admissions Blog and Carleton College TikTok, respectively) for being such great climbing partners.

If you want to know about other activities at Carleton, check out George Perry’s post on club sports, and Leksi’s post on Club Hockey!


George (he/him) is a freshman interested in GeologyEnvironmental Studies, and Classics, from New York City. He loves listening to music (currently Big Thief, Belle and Sebastian, and A$AP Rocky), as well as playing the jazz flute and guitar. At Carleton, he’s on the board for Carleton Association of Nature and Outdoor Enthusiasts (CANOE) and hosts a radio show with KRLX. You may see him climbing in the bouldering cave, playing ultimate frisbee for Karls, or thrifting in Northfield. Meet the Other Bloggers!