Behind the scenes of the rock wall is muscle: one person who goes above and beyond to make every climbing experience worthwhile.
Josh Schmidt, a senior biology major from Salt Lake City, is the wall staff manager at the Bishop Climbing Wall, where he began working three years ago after taking a rock climbing class on campus as a first-year student.
As the wall’s manager, Schmidt is the staff connection between faculty supervisors and the wall. He also coordinates events at the wall, which requires him to set up and take down the events, gather prizes and strip the wall to set up new paths.
“Josh is really knowledgeable about climbing,” said Kami Abi-Nader, co-manager at the Bishop Climbing Wall. “[He] is really into showing people the ropes and [he is] also really good at getting people excited about climbing.”
Q: What was your first rock climbing experience like?
A: My first experience was a little intimidating, but I really liked it. It’s a physical skill that you [have] to have a mental game for. You have to think about how to move, how to place your foot and hold a certain hold. It’s solving a puzzle a lot of the time, which is what I like about it.
Q: What are the main things every climber needs to know?
A: There are three things that everybody needs to know: to look good, to have fun and be safe. On top of that, if you’re going to get into climbing, just stay positive, try hard and don’t feel intimidated to ask for help. We are always here, ready and willing to help.
Q: What do you have to do to get the wall ready for climbers?
A: There’s a lot of organization and behind-the-scenes work with waivers and paperwork, but a big chunk of it is the setting. We have to take the holds off the wall that are already there, clean all of the holds, let them dry, reset, re-tape and then grade them. On top of that, we make sure everybody is trained and ready to go.
Q: Do you usually see more regulars or a lot of new students at the wall?
A: I see a lot of both. The cool thing about the climbing wall is that everybody wants to try it. At the first of the year, we will see a big surge of newcomers and some of them will stick. I like to say the wall is like a fish bowl. Everyone comes down to look at it and see the goldfish. But a lot of people actually don’t come to climb; they come to hang out with people who are climbing, which is really cool as well.
Q: What would you tell someone who wasn’t really sure but was thinking about getting into climbing?
A: Do it! I think when people are apprehensive about something, they really want to do it but they have something that is holding them back. There is nothing that can really hurt you or can really debilitate you if you are going to try it and fail. You learn from failing. If you’re intimidated, come down and bring a friend.