UNC Asheville student climbs to the top

UNC Asheville student Liam Gayter scales in Pisgah National Forest. Photo by Sarah Buie.
UNC Asheville student Liam Gayter scales in Pisgah National Forest. Photo by Sarah Buie.

Cassidy Fowler
Sports Staff Writer
cfowler@unca.edu

Every day isn’t always sunny in Asheville, but every day is a good day to climb for UNC Asheville junior Liam Gayter.

“Climbing is one of the best outdoor sports and the fact that we can do it through programs on campus makes it even better,” Gayter said enthusiastically.

Gayter grew up in Chicago, going to climbing gyms as a boy and using the climbing wall in his high school gym.

“I’ve only recently started climbing steeper, tougher rocks in the last year, since transferring to UNCA,” Gayter said.

Gayter said he came to UNCA and immediately signed up for one of the two outdoor program’s pre-rendezblue adventures. After that, he was hooked.

UNCA’s Outdoor Programs offered everything Gayter wanted and more.

After attending pre-rendezblue, Gayter began going on outdoor recreational activities such as mountain biking, hiking and of course, climbing.

“It was the awesome staff that thoroughly taught me and other adventurer’s skills that I needed that made me want to begin working for UNCA’s outdoor rec facility,” Gayter said.

Gayter began to take the Outdoor Leadership Training Program course to become Wilderness First Aid certified and started on the track to work on campus.

Gayter said he loved climbing on the OLTP winter and spring backpacking trips, but his favorite adventure came shortly after.

“We were at the south side of Looking Glass Wall in Pisgah climbing the ‘Bloody Crack,’” Gayter said, chuckling under his breath. “It is exactly how it sounds.”

Gayter said to scale the rock, he had to wedge his hands and feet into a crack that was cutting him up, living up to its namesake .

“The wall was both physically and mentally challenging, making it hard to stay positive, but once I made it to the top the sense of empowerment and the amazing views made the struggle worth it,” Gayter said.

Gayter said he’s climbed many of the best spots in Pisgah, but the Bloody Crack was by far the most awesome.

He hopes to instill the same love of the outdoors into his participants as his leaders did into him.

“I’ve been working for outdoor rec since last spring, but I didn’t start leading trips until this fall semester,” Gayter said.

Gayter said he led the popular course, Outdoor Climbing 101, on Sept. 25, which was the last climbing trip of the semester.

There were 9 participants on the trip and three leaders, Gayter being one of them.

In the class, participants got to learn how to tie a figure-eight follow-through, the main climbing knot, some basic climbing techniques and terms and how to belay with a ATC belay device.

“The weather was beautiful, sunny and hot,” Gayter said. “Some storms rolled in as we were packing up, but that definitely didn’t affect the trip.”

Gayter said the best part was to give the participants a taste of what he enjoys doing so much.

“It was super cool to see people who expressed fears of climbing before the trip give it their all and complete some challenging climbs,” Gayter said.
He enjoyed getting to know some new peers and sharing his love and knowledge of the sport with others. Gayter said he is excited to teach more classes when the season starts back up this summer.

Gayter said he believes that climbing, as well as the mental and physical skills used and learned in all outdoor rec activities, can be used all throughout life.

“No matter what, you can take what you learned in climbing and apply it to any aspect of real life. If I’m struggling in school, I suck it up, push on and know that I can make it through and will come out better on the other end,” Gayter said. “I thank climbing for that mental toughness.”

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