This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.
When the roads and sidewalks are covered in snow and ice, it can be a challenge to get in a good workout, but the Falcon Outdoor Adventure program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls has a solution -- an indoor rock climbing wall.
“The gym is open year-round,” said Jake Brunquell, outdoor recreation coordinator. “All the equipment, including harnesses and shoes, is provided, and we offer plenty of help for new climbers.”
Climbers who already know how to handle a rope and belay can take a test and be certified to belay other climbers. Those who don’t know can attend one of the clinics that are offered every day the wall is open.
“We have two or three climbing instructors there to monitor the climbing wall,” Brunquell said. “They are there to help people, to give belays, to give orientations to the wall.”
While there are plenty of routes for climbers to choose from. Brunquell wants to keep it interesting and frequently moves the handholds and footholds to create new routes.
“My goal is to have the entire room reset every six or seven weeks,” he said.
The open climbing sessions in the evening are open to anyone who shows up. The gym is also available for reservations for private parties.
“Private reservations are very popular,” Brunquell said. “We do a lot of birthday parties. We have a lot of groups come in from schools or churches.”
The campus also has a Learn to Climb program designed specifically for 6-to-13-year-olds of any skill level. The classes meet weekly at the rock climbing gym. Check the website for dates for registration and times for upcoming classes.
For more advanced climbers, the gym sponsors both bouldering and climbing competitions each year.
The Falcon Outdoor Adventures program also rents almost any type of equipment people might need for outdoors activities. There are backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camping chairs, headlamps, bikes, roller blades, cross country skis, snowshoes, paddle boards, and more. Program does not rent kayaks or canoes.
“We are constantly replacing old gear and getting new gear,” Brunquell said. “We are seeing more and more people from the community coming in to climb or rent outdoor gear. We like that, because whenever we can get more people involved, everybody wins.”
If you go...
Name: Falcon Center Rock Climbing Gym
Address: 185 Emogene Nelson Ave., River Falls, Wis.
Hours: 6-9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday
Cost: $10 daily, $28 monthly, a family pass is $43 per month; University of Wisconsin students/faculty are included.