Carter has been a target for exploring alleged secret passages for some time, but Barnes Gym has unknown rooms of its own too.
On the first floor of the gym, behind the double doors right of the aerobics room, is a climbing room with an old, 10-foot-high bouldering wall. In what they are calling “the Boulder Project,” students are advocating for the reopening of the climbing room and the rebuilding of the bouldering wall.
Closed four years ago, the wall is in disrepair, and recently, students have been starting a conversation about reopening the wall to the student body. Caleb Spykstra, a Junior Art Major, started the project as his interest in climbing grew after joining an event with the Climbing Club.
Spykstra had heard about the climbing wall from someone, and had seen it before for himself. Knowing that everyone in the Climbing Club spends quite a sum of money for memberships at the Tennessee Bouldering Authority (TBA) each semester, Spykstra started pushing for the wall to reopen, and created a project to help follow up. “Basically there’s been people talking to the gym about re-opening it, but nobody follows up,” Spykstra said.
Posters were spread around campus, stickers mailed to interested students, and a Facebook page started.
Spykstra had talked to Kyle Taylor, the Director of Facilities in the gym, about restoring the wall. With no positive answer for some time, Spykstra thought that the project was over.
However, Taylor eventually responded to Spykstra explaining that the old rock wall has been torn down this summer to make room for storage space due to Carter Hall renovations. Taylor thought building a new rock wall would be better than fixing the old one, and is going to discuss the project with Dean Voyles.
Spykstra contends that building a bouldering wall is fairly simple. “It’s literally just plywood with a wood frame. I’m fairly certain that you could build your own wall, but I’m not sure how Covenant will do it,” Spykstra said. A few professionals from TBA have agreed to help set routes for the climbing holes if a new wall were to be built.
About three-hundred people have been signing up for Covenant’s Climbing Club and at least thirty have been active in the club, going down to TBA at least three times a week.
Membership fees for TBA are over $100 per student and Covenant has reimbursed at least half of the fees for students in the club. This provides a premise for asking the campus to relocate the money to build a climbing wall of its own.
Spykstra also suggests that building a climbing wall at Covenant will attract new students. “Any public school has a climbing wall. One thing that surprises me is that Covenant doesn’t have it, and we’re known to be an outdoorsy kind of school. I think it will really help attract students,” Spykstra stated.