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Belay on! Climbing classes offered at Peterson

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Dan Rodriguez, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron deputy base civil engineer, goes over the basics of how to safely climb the rock wall at the Peterson Air Force Base Fitness Center, Dec. 14, 2016. Rodriguez has been instructing the classes at the fitness center for over 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Dan Rodriguez, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron deputy base civil engineer, goes over the basics of how to safely climb the rock wall at the Peterson Air Force Base Fitness Center, Dec. 14, 2016. Rodriguez has been instructing the classes at the fitness center for over 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

SQUAMISH, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada – Dan Rodriguez, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron deputy base civil engineer, climbs a crack in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada, June 26, 2015. Rodriguez has been climbing for over 35 years, and has climbed all over North America. (Courtesy photo provided by Dan Rodriguez)

SQUAMISH, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada – Dan Rodriguez, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron deputy base civil engineer, climbs a crack in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada, June 26, 2015. Rodriguez has been climbing for over 35 years, and has climbed all over North America. (Courtesy photo provided by Dan Rodriguez)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Hidden away in a stairwell behind the weight room at the Peterson Air Force Base Fitness Center is a little-known and little-used room. There’s a rock wall that’s available for climbing any time the gym is open. All it takes to learn to use it is a short class and certification.

Dan Rodriguez, deputy base civil engineer, 21st Civil Engineering Squadron, has been climbing for 36 years. He remembers the exact date he got into rock climbing.

“It was September 1981,” Rodriguez said, “I started college at the University of Colorado Boulder and after I bought my books, I went to the rec center and signed up for a climbing class.”

After getting the bug for climbing, he soon bought his first set of gear.

“Back then the only way to get gear was mail order, on a mimeographed catalog,” said Rodriguez.

Soon his hobby got him traveling around the continent to do climbs. He climbed in Moab, Utah; the Devils Tower in Wyoming, Yosemite, and even in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. He participated in national climbing competitions, as well as being asked to be a judge for various competitions.

About 10 years ago, Rodriguez started volunteering on base to teach the instructional class for the rock wall at the fitness center. When Rodriguez teaches the classes he stresses, safety.

“It’s important to get the basics down. The most common rock climbing accidents you see are people slacking or forgetting the basics the safety factor is worth any hassle.”

To complete the course, climbers must show they can properly put on a harness, tie the correct knots and give the correct commands to climb.

As far as the actual climbing, that’s up to the climbers.

Climbing can be a great workout, it really works your whole body, arms and shoulders of course, but every muscle gets used when climbing,” Rodriguez said. “Start off slow, learn a couple climbing routes and get used to it sometimes you’re using muscles to climb that you don’t use in day-to-day life.”

“If you want to get more serious about climbing, you’ll want to invest in a good pair of climbing shoes and some other gear basics, like climbing chalk and a basic harness,” added Rodriguez.

After mastering the gym here on Peterson there are several local climbing gyms that can give even more of a challenge. Spring is quickly approaching and Colorado has some of the best climbing around. Outdoor Recreation offers trips and discounts to local and regional climbing locations several times a year.

So get out there and climb.

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