My first experience rock climbing was in Colorado. In a rock-climbing gym. Among some of the city’s elite climbers—the people who scale a wall in seconds, compete on the weekends and spend their free evenings outside with a harness.
It was only semi-intimidating. So when I showed up at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s new Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC), I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d be the only newbie.
As it turns out, I wasn’t. That’s one of the best things about a University-sponsored rock wall—there will always be waves of new students to tone down the level of intensity. Compared to stand-alone climbing gyms, the OAC has an inviting, all-comers atmosphere.
For those of you whose eyes glazed over when I mentioned “University,” this rock wall is also open to the public. Located on UNL’s city campus at 930 N. 14th St., it’s easily accessible from downtown Lincoln.
|The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Outdoor Adventures Center. Great facilities, not intimidating. Win-win.|
One of the best parts about OAC’s rock climbing wall is its low barrier to entry. The OAC provides $10/climb guest passes. If you want unlimited access, you’ll need a membership (if you’re not a student), as well as a $20, four-hour introduction class. That’s it. You can rent shoes ($1.50) and a harness (free) each time you climb. And your introductory class qualifies you to belay, so bring a buddy and avoid the dreaded auto-belays.
Now that I've got my first, second and third climbs out of the way, I continue to be impressed by the OAC’s climbing wall. It’s staffed by students, who are more than willing to belay or answer any questions. (And of course, they’ll let you know if you’re doing something wrong—definitely a good thing, when you’re responsible for safely belaying someone several stories high.)
Nebraska has no mountains (until we build Nebraska Mountain), but the OAC’s climbing wall is the next best thing.