Graduate Student Leaders Go Rock Climbing!

On March 14, 2013 by Grad Forum

rock_climbing_feature_editedEvery term, the Graduate Studies Office organizes an event for all graduate student leaders that helps develop team and leadership skills. On March 6, graduate student leaders from various groups, including the Graduate Student Council (GSC), the Dartmouth Graduate Outing Club (DGOC), the Dartmouth Argentine Tango Society (DATS), the International Graduate Mentoring Program (IGMP), and the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWISE), participated in a rock-climbing event at the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center (GMRCC) at Quechee, Vermont. The GMRCC is the tallest and largest indoor climbing gym in the area with 24 top ropes.

In the past, the Graduate Studies Office has organized several ropes courses for graduate student leaders, as well as Strengths Quest team-building activities. Both of these types of activities have helped graduate students in identifying strengths and developing group work and management skills. This is the first time that rock climbing has been offered.

During the climb, each climber was supported by a belayer, who holds the end of a rope attached to the climber and uses a belay device designed to apply friction as needed to prevent falls. The climber must trust the belayer to provide the necessary friction. However, in addition to providing support, it is the belayer’s job to allow enough slack for the climber to continue climbing. Climbing pairs learn to work together to coordinate climbing course and pace and trust each other.

Most of the graduate participants had never climbed before, so there was a lot to learn. After around two hours of climbing, most of the students were sore, but they learned a key aspect of being a leader: gaining and giving trust. Aarathi Prasad, a graduate student in computer science, commented on the event: “I was pretty terrified since I had never done rock climbing before and almost wanted to back out at the last moment. However, I am glad I went, because the event was simply so much fun, very safe, and I think I returned a little more confident about myself than earlier.”

Overall the event was fantastic, free of injury and simply awesome. Thanks again to Graduate Studies for organizing such wonderful, skill-developing events.

by Gilbert Rahme


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