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Rock climbing: Through the eyes of a dedicated Belmont climber

Elisabeth Gage/Belmont Vision

He steps back and strategizes his next move.

Carefully and meticulously, he places each hold with intent to create a unique path to achieve success.

At the start of each week, he takes time to reset a 30-foot-tall wall, providing around six to eight new climbs per week for climbers of all levels.

Senior Jaan Harrison Kohm is the Student Coordinator of Outdoor Recreation for the Belmont FitRec.

“I really enjoy creating. It's really fulfilling seeing people enjoy and have fun on something that you created,” Kohm said.

Kohm began seriously climbing in the fall of 2019.

He encourages climbers of all levels to come and try it out.

“It's really cool that you can be so different but also just have this passion and love of rock climbing. And no matter where you come from, what language you speak, you can just have a session, go in there and you can problem solve. And you can enjoy just the freeness of how it feels on the wall when you're climbing up,” Kohm said.

“It was like a different pace,” Kohm said, in comparison to sports he commonly played in high school.

Kohm explains how rock climbing has become incredibly popular recently around the world, and that the climbing community is constantly encouraging new climbers.

“The more media that kind of promotes it, the more people are interested in it when they see something at school. They're intrigued and want to come try it,” Kohm said.

Fellow rock climber Jadon King has only been rock climbing for three months.

“I enjoy first the community, and then rock climbing itself. The combination of how mentally and physically challenging it is, it’s just such an interesting way to push your body and your mind,” King said.

Kohm and King both spend much of their time at the Belmont rock wall.

Kohm is very excited for the rock climbing events that he will be holding throughout the rest of the year — including a climbing competition called Boulderdash in April that is set to take place at the FitRec.

“And we're actually going to hopefully be involved with Vanderbilt here soon. I met the guy who runs the wall up there and we're going to try to do something, some joint event,” Kohm said.

First time rock climbers Molly Kiwan and Jolie Nashed recently attended their first Climb Night and both said they had a lot of fun during their time on the wall.

“It’s harder than I thought, but it’s fun, it’s really fun, like I’d definitely do it again,” Kiwan said.

“I think it’s just the adrenaline of being up there. It’s like a rollercoaster,” Nashed said.

Kohm also enjoys spending part of his time at other rock walls around Nashville such as Climb Nashville West, Climb Nashville East and The Crag.

He also said that the FitRec rock wall is “a place to try it out and meet the community and come back to it.”

Kohm mentioned how many Belmont students spend most of their time at those other gyms.

“But I think going to both is really cool too because, you get both harder climbs, plus community, plus two different styles of climbing because they’re by different setters, and just different walls,” Kohm said.

Sophomore Nate Briggs has been climbing for a year and a half and says that the rock wall is “super inviting, everyone is so nice.”

Briggs has worked at the FitRec rock wall for two months.

“I think rock climbers are some of the most supportive people I've ever met,” Kohm said.

He shares his biggest piece of advice about rock climbing.

“So if you come in, and you're kind of afraid, just ask and I think anybody will genuinely try to help or try to encourage you to give it your best shot. No matter the outcome, you fall, you get to the top, we’ll be proud. We’ll just love that you are trying it out and giving rock climbing a shot, because it helped us so much and we just hope it helps whoever tries it.”

This article was written by Elisabeth Gage

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