Students practice climbing, not falling


Pitt-Johnstown student Cory Becker climbs the Wellness Center rock wall during class.

John Richard, Staff Writer

On Wednesday nights in the Wellness Center, you can find students belaying each other on the rock wall. They are part of a class taught by Christopher Mamula called Basic Rock Climbing.

The course runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and is a one-credit class. It has a lecture component in which students learn how to properly use rock-climbing gear, how to belay other climbers and basic rock-climbing safety.

Mamula explained belaying involves two people connected to each other by a rope and harness, while rappelling is a controlled descent.

“(The course) is to teach students who have never climbed before how to be safe, competent climbers,” Mamula said.

Mamula, who has been teaching the class for two years, instructs students on the differences between bouldering, free climbing, rappelling and belaying. He also teaches how to safely secure harnesses before students climb.

Dylan Basta, a former student in the class and current student instructor, received his belay certification upon completing the class.

“I assist (Mamula) with the class in making sure the students follow safety procedures and helping them improve their climbing,” Basta said.

Basta was helping a student practice bouldering, a form of rock climbing without ropes or harnesses. Bouldering is only done on rocks up to 20 feet tall and is considered more dangerous.

“A fall from 3 feet could be fatal,” Basta said.

Giovanni Dall’Amico, a current student of Mamula, said “(the class) is a fun, different way to get a credit,

“Mamula is very professional, gives you skills that you can build on later, and is a vastly positive instructor.”