Welcome to the Harvard Climbing Wall! We have a dedicated staff who open the Wall every 6 nights a week and can teach you everything you’ll need to know to have fun and stay safe. And we can provide all the gear you need to climb. So whether you’re a rock-crushing climbing fiend or a curious newbie thinking that climbing is way too scary or dangerous, come try it out! We promise you’ll have a kick-ass time. Please note that only Harvard University ID holders are allowed at the Climbing Wall. You will also need to sign a waiver before you climb, which you can do online to speed things up when you get here.
Where? The Wall is located in the QRAC, on Garden Street near the Radcliffe Quadrangle.
When? For now, hours are as follows:
- Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday: 5-9
- Monday, Wednesday: 5-7:30
- Saturday: 2-6
What? Bouldering is climbing with pads instead of ropes. Because a fall onto a pad becomes harder the higher you climb (whereas a rope provides the same catch at any height), bouldering problems tend to be shorter than roped climbs. Our wall, for example, is 18 feet high. This short length means you don’t get as tired as on a longer roped climb, and so boulder problems (i.e. routes) can offer trickier and more interesting moves than roped climbs. Boulder problems tend to be puzzles in which you figure out where you need to put your feet and hands to stay balanced while moving up the wall.
Who? The Harvard Climbing Wall is open to anyone who can swipe into a Harard Athletics facility. One of the great things about climbing is that the variety in type of problem means that anyone (of any build) can be a great climber. A rower or football player may be able to power up some routes with pure strength, but other routes will require someone who can delicate balance on each of the holds. A lot of people think you need to be really tall to climb so that you can reach the holds, but this isn’t true. When we set routes we do our best to ensure that height isn’t going to prevent anyone from climbing them. And the biophysics behind climbing actually suggests that smaller climbers should have an advantage. (This is because strength is proportional to muscle cross-sectional area, which is roughly proportional to the square of your height, whereas your weight is proportional to your volume, which is roughly proportional to the cube of your height, so the shorter you are the better your strength-to-weight ratio is expected to be!)
Why? There are many reasons to boulder. It makes you strong both as a climber and in general. It’s a great way to hang out and socialize. And it a ton of fun.
Is it safe? Short answer: YES! Long answer: While we cannot say that climbing is 100% safe, it is not nearly as dangerous as you may think. We usually see 1 or 2 sprayed/twisted ankles per semester, a broken wrist every couple of years, and, of course, some bruises along the way. We probably can’t say the rest of this officially, but unofficially: Your chances of getting injured are similar to if you were playing basketball, soccer, or most other sports. That’s not to say more serious injuries aren’t possible, they’re just not significantly more likely than during other parts of your every day life.
How much does it cost? For the first month that we are open during the 2017-18 school year, the Wall will be FREE!
What do I wear/bring? Athletic clothes (i.e. whatever you’d wear at the gym, playing soccer, or on a run) are ideal for climbing, but street/casual clothes also work fine. If you own your own climbing shoes bring those, but otherwise we can supply you with free rental shoes. The Wall is all bouldering, so no need for a harness. We also have communal chalk bags so no need to bring your own. Bringing a water bottle is never a bad idea.