Best University Buildering


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Feb 27, 2009 - 04:51pm PT
If you are going to climb at night it is nice to have company.

This is a beckoning gargoyle on Hull Gate at U of Chicago,
contrasted with Regenstein chimney in backgkround.

The Hull Gate kind of hints that architecture is there to be climbed.


Rockefeller was the one with the Carillon, I think, and the clock with the Grimthorpe double three-legged gravity escapement. I visited the inside once. An impressive climb. It was the tower with the set of change-ringing bells I spent more time with, mostly in, a little out. We could go up above the change-ringing room to watch and hear the giant bells swing on their wheels, the clapper striking as the bell reached apex on either side of of its swing, ringing with mouth turned skywards, "The better for God to hear."

Occasionally we did a course of Cambridge Surprise major or minor. I never got good at the timing but once made it through 3 hours of something-or-other, on 6 bells probably.

U of C has had a few ring theorists, too. There was a Susan, one of those rare women mathematicians, who came to the change-ringing practices.

Change ringing requires special bells, special "music", and ordinary people who enjoy climbing towers,

 North American Guild of Change Ringers

It looks like the US President studied law at Chicago and a peal of changes rang in his era of change. (Although when I went to a site to learn more, they were trying to shake quarters out of my pocket.)

Plus ca change.

saving changes now

Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Feb 27, 2009 - 05:26pm PT
Actually, Columbia College (Sonora/Columbia) had some pretty good climbing BITD (1974-76), if the Arboretum (great limestone bouldering) on the campus was not suitable for climbing because it was raining or snowing, then the arches on the main admin building (by the cafeteria), where the walls were made up of rock and plaster, so to speak, were great for buildering. You would have to see them to know what I am speaking about. Protected from the elements by the 'balcony' that ran the length of that portion of the building. We (myself, Claude Fiddler, Jim Keating and others) were never harassed (that I know of) by campus officials. It was great.

Social climber
wuz real!
Feb 27, 2009 - 09:42pm PT
Cowpoke stole my thunder. The University of Wyo rocks for buildering. Long travers, roof problems all kinds of stuff. When I went to school there, I picked up a copy of the School paper to see a photo of Todd Skinner on the cover, climbing one of those cracks in Cowpoke's photo (the classrooom building, sometimes reffered to as the kodak carousel building) Todd had played the photogtapher as evidenced by the caption; "Real estate major Royal Robbins, training for Mt McKinley._

MH2, twist, My older bro went to the the U of C and had a whole series of gothic boulder problems;"Mantle the Saint, dyno the gargoyle" etc.
I'm hurtin . . .

Ice climber
land of cheese and beer
Feb 27, 2009 - 11:34pm PT
St. Olaf College in Northfield MN has some great buildings as well, especially the athletic fieldhouse. Super hard, sharp limestone cut from nearby quarries. Fantastic traverses at any height you care to fall from!

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Feb 28, 2009 - 02:04am PT
Someone who's not lazy should link to the Cambridge Climbers post, wherein the King's Chapel was nothing more than a wee night out.

Found it:

Night Climbers of Cambridge

A good one:

King's Castle at Night

The best:

I, Irish, am too lazy to look it up, but somewhere in that writing is the story of a man who put a Swastika on King's, alone. I would like to buy that brave man a pint.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Feb 28, 2009 - 02:58am PT

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Feb 28, 2009 - 03:24am PT
Kollege is too German for this topic.

The proper English gentlemen are the ones who've climbed King's Chapel.

Feb 28, 2009 - 10:24am PT
Sorry, Jaybro, I didn't intend to thunder steal. Indeed, I hoped the image would evoke such a tale. Very funny. I wonder how many folks noticed the RR photo credit?

Knight Hall (I think?) was another spot on the UWyo campus where I often looked up and wondered if someone bold had been -- on the south side of Prexy's Pasture, it has the pink granite facade, but occasional window-like concrete features that might be great jugs for shaking out. I, however, never buildered while there. I wasn't a student and the idea of my Dean happening upon an adventure was usually excuse enough to just look and wonder. Yet, a couple of our grad students were more brave...

Social climber
wuz real!
Feb 28, 2009 - 10:50am PT
I remember the facade on the Quarteracre(?) gym was different than most of the other buildings, less sharp, more subtle. Might be something else than the standard Casper/Chugwater formation stuff.

Almost got nailed when traversing on the residence hall cafe. An explosion of chocolate milk blasted right next to me, apparently thrown from a higher window in one of those wyoming skyscrapers,,,
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Mar 1, 2009 - 12:30am PT
I'll second the motion for C.U. Boulder. I spent
endless hours there in the early 1960s and onward,
and the possibilities are virtually limitless.
Of course people began to focus on the Engineering
Center, but that was of least interest to me. I had
all sorts of hideouts, out of view of walkways, on
the backs of buildings, even inside. The whole campus
is made of that Lyons formation sandstone, and so
about a hundred buildings have these walls, many walls
of many varying sizes, some easy, some very difficult.
It's not all about flat holds. It depends on how
they laid those stones... We especially
enjoyed very long traverses that pumped the forearms
beyond belief. We would set records, back and forth,
on certain routes as many times as possible, sometimes
staying on a traverse for several hours. I've been
to some of the other places mentioned, and I've been
to lots of universities and buildering locations,
and I can honestly and emphatically say I haven't
really seen anything that compares with the full scope
of the C.U. campus, most of which the modern builderer
has little knowledge, as they stick around the Engineering
Center, many do, much of the time... And then within a
few minutes one can switch from the sandstone of the campus
to the actual rock above the city... Boulder was always
a climber's paradise... in many more ways than one...
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Mar 1, 2009 - 12:38am PT
I cast my vote for the Doe Library Traverse at Berkeley. Favorite buildering problem... or bouldering problem for that matter.

Although i technically have not done the last move so i can't claim it. I think at last count only 3 people had done the last move. I showed the problem to Tommy Caldwell who did onsight it to the last move... and i am sure he could of done it if he had another couple hours... its hard!

Great video of it in the bouldering video west coast pimp

Aug 29, 2012 - 08:14am PT
Jaybro and others with uwyo pasts should enjoy this climbing guide...a wonderful campus brought to life through a climber's eyes...a lovely work.

"This thin, beautiful line was developed after someone picked out the rubber from the expansion joints in the concrete late at night. As Davin describes, the point of all this is often 'just to climb a rock for the sake of climbing a rock' — not to summit — but just for the sheer feeling and rhythm that comes from moving your body vertically over a face of stone. The small, open crack of the Physical Sciences Building is of the type that draws climbers by the thousands to places like Indian Creek, Utah, where cracks in the walls perfectly split the burnt-auburn and sienna-colored rock face without changing in width, whether the cracks are finger or fist size."

sketch and prose by Paula Wright

Link to the full essay:


Trad climber
East Coast US
Aug 29, 2012 - 10:44am PT
Thomas Hall @ Temple University, sadly, now gone (1998) with a modern dormitory in its place. On the back side of this thing was one of the greatest bouldering traverses I've ever done. Student & Faculty climbers hit this spot often and there was always chalk all over the red stone holds. Campus security typically looked the other way. However, late in my undergraduate career they turned up the heat and consistently chased us off.

I held a music performance scholarship and would often practice in the studios in the basement of this building then go climbing.


Mountain climber
Aug 29, 2012 - 10:52am PT
Cover page from Climber's guide to Caltech, circa late 1960s.
Cover page from Climber's guide to Caltech, circa late 1960s.
Credit: Pratyush

Caltech, in Pasadena, has quite a few climbs. So many that there was a whole booklet (pdf link) published about them long ago when Chuck Wilts (of Tahquitz fame) used to be a Professor at Caltech. Campus security does not allow many of these climbs anymore though, but there are still a few you can do.

Dedicated to Chuck Wilts "for the insane idea" The "Climbing History section" says: The history of climbing at Caltech is rather vague, but then perhaps most of Caltech is rather vague. It is known that Dave Rearick made a number of ascents, the most notable of which was the first ascent of the famed Spalding layback, accomplished only by a rest on the belay halfway up. Second term 1967 opened up a new era of building climbing. The revived Caltech Alpine Club, lacking transportation, took up climbing buildings for practice. The North campus routes were found and done, (they are definitely first ascents) as well as many others. And on the rating system: It is quit difficult to find a grade VI at Caltech... First ascentionists mentioned: Dave Rossum (1967), Neal Erickson (1967), Rob Jackson (1967), Keith Edwards (1967), Georges Balassa (1967), Dave Rearick (1958))

Aug 29, 2012 - 11:25am PT
Hey Chris, one of our current climbing team presidents is probably the fourth person to get the full Doe traverse

He nails the last move

For the uninitiated, the rules are

1. No vertical pulls
2. No sticky shoes
3. No chalk

There is also a "doppelgänger" doe traverse on the other side of the library that is identical in every way except the last iconic move.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Aug 29, 2012 - 11:27am PT
How cool is that, Cowpoke, thanks! That red arrow in the second image shows where I first did a one arm pullup on a climbing problem ( as opposed to a flexible pullup bar).

I woke up this morning in california sinus running like a facet craving the dry austerity of Vedauwoo air......

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2014 - 11:42pm PT

I don't know if any of you UW (University of Washington) climbers tried it, but Husky Stadium had a really neat flare that one could do heel-toe/knee-heel or knee-heel/back-foot. It was on a giant cylindrical support for a spiral ramp leading to the upper deck and faced the climbing rock across the parking lot. I never saw anyone else on it but did see scuff marks on it that weren't mine. You could top out at about 30', but I always down-climbed much earlier. Anyway, it's no more, the victim of the newest renovation.

Also wrt UW, how high on the Red Square Chimneys have any of you gotten? For the information of non-UW people, it's a perfect back-foot brick chimney, open on both sides and must go up more than 80' with a hard (uneven brick) landing. I think when I showed up in 93 there we a few manky looking 1/4" bolts up high. I let discretion be the better part of valor and retreated quite low down.

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 1, 2014 - 01:08am PT
just a friday night bump, 'cause I'm curious about the Red Square Chimneys.

Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Feb 1, 2014 - 01:46am PT
The Wyman Park bridge at Johns Hopkins U. is fantastic buildering. Huge traverses and long enough top out to have some concern. Still go there when I visit Charm City.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 1, 2014 - 01:50am PT
The U of Washington was a fertile field and there was a mimeographed guide book.
Messages 21 - 40 of total 54 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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