October 17, 2000

Cornell Celebrates Tenth Anniversary of Climbing

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President Hunter Rawlings III, as well as many other administrators and Cornell Outdoor Education staff members, gathered together to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Lindseth Climbing Wall. The mammoth wall has been the center piece of the Cornell Outdoor Education program, and is one of the most remarkable and most used facilities in all of Cornell.

Along with the anniversary celebration, President Rawlings announced another generous donation by Jon and Ginny Lindseth ’57. They have continued their support of COE by forever endowing its directorship, ensuring that the COE will always be a part of Cornell. The man chosen for the job is current executive director Todd Minor.

“It’s so wonderful that the Lindseths have followed up their initial gift with one like this. It means so much to us on a permanent basis,” President Rawlings said.

The wall stands a towering 160 feet high and 30 feet wide on the east wall of the Ramin Field House, covering 4,800 square feet, and is the largest indoor natural climbing wall in North America. The climbing surface consists of natural rocks embedded into the concrete wall. A wide variety of climbing routes are carved in to the wall, including laybacks and overhangs. The bottom 10 feet of the wall also provide a challenging bouldering course.

The wall was a gift to Cornell from the Lindseths. The Lindseths have been an integral part of COE and the Cornell community for many years. They have traveled on many COE excursions, including climbing Half Dome and Lost Aerospire in Yosemite National Park.

“The memories are enormous, not only the number of times I have climbed this wall which is more than half a dozen, but also the trips I have taken with students. Both are very important to me and Ginny,” Mr. Lindseth said.

The wall over its lengthy tenure has required very little maintenance and is extremely safe. Over 20,000 students have climbed the wall during the past 10 years, and services more than a dozen PE courses every semester.

“We want it to continue to be a place where students learn and can come to have a good time to relieve the stress of college life,” Todd Minor, Executive Director of COE, said.

The original vision for the wall was conceived by the athletic director at that time, Laing Kennedy ’63 and Dan Tillemans, the former director of COE.

“[Tillemans] is the guy who conceived of the idea for the wall and the overall growth of the outdoor education program, now totaling more than 5,000 students. Overall, it is of an enormous value to both the students and the University at large,” Lindseth remarked.

The majority of the courses in COE, especially in respect to the climbing wall, are taught by undergraduate students, and cater to the needs of climbers of every skill level. Ann Grote, a senior climber, is teaching her first class on beginning rock climbing this semester.

“There isn’t any natural rock climbing in the Ithaca area, so people who want to learn to climb have a wonderful place to learn and experienced rock climbers can practice when ever they want,” Grote said, who later addressed the audience on her own personal experiences on the wall.

“Students learn to be leaders, and others learn outdoor skills the will use all their lives,” Mr. Lindseth remarked.

After the ceremony, the group left the Ramin Room and made its way to the Schoellkopf House to have dinner and view slides of the numerous trips that the Lindseth’s have taken in Antarctica.

The Lindseths participation in Cornell is not limited to the outdoor education program. The Lindseths are also very active in the Cornell library system, making numerous donations, as well as endowing the deanship of the Johnson School of Management in the name of Mr. Lindseth’s parents, Anne and Elmer Lindseth.

The day was not only a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the completion of the climbing wall, but also a celebration of the great successes of the Cornell Outdoor Education program, which has enriched the lives of countless Cornell students and alumni.

Archived article by Josh Vlasto