A Mile High Challenge

By Madison Heun, Alexis Beck, Jade Henschel, & Angela White


Endurance, strength, passion, and 189 climbs to the top of the rock tower.

Students and staff members had the opportunity to test their climbing skills at the UREC climbing tower. With approximately 38 climbs a day, over seven days, contestants took on the challenge of climbing the rock wall located in the Kress Events Center to complete the equivalent of a mile-high climb.

A challenge that first started as a semester-long opportunity was turned into a week-long event when Ethan Harvey, the outdoor adventure recreation coordinator, first joined the Kress staff in 2018. Harvey shared, “In grad school, I ran the University of Northern Iowa climbing facility, and the climbing club there did a week-long Mile High Challenge. I brought that idea here.”

The first Mile High Challenge took place in 2019, where eight teams competed for the climb. Due to campus closure for COVID-19 safety reasons, the challenge did not occur in the 2020 spring semester.

Thirteen contestants competed in the Mile High Challenge this past week. Contestants had the opportunity to climb solo or in teams of two.  Emma Wallace, a senior at UWGB, competed for her second time after taking a liking to rock climbing during her freshman year. She described the challenge as “around 38 climbs a day,” but she aims her daily goal at 40 climbs. For Wallace, she finds the climb to be strenuous yet rewarding, stating that “the most challenging part is probably staying motivated to keep climbing despite blisters on your feet and fingers,” but climbing with friends and receiving a t-shirt to be “fun and enjoyable.”

Photo Courtesy of Angela White

This year, 13 contestants competed, with eight people pairing up into 2-person teams. There have been 2,139 feet climbed throughout the week for a total of 59,892 feet or over 10 miles. The challenge participants were awarded a t-shirt.

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