Inspiring College Students to Reach New Heights: Assessing Physical and Social Environments at a University Climbing Wall and Effects on Participant Satisfaction


  • Jeremiah Haas Appalachian State University
  • Katie Richards Appalachian State University


Since the Appalachian State University (ASU) Outdoor Program's (OP) climbing wall opened in 2006, climbing wall managers have logged over 100,000 participations. As the program's most popular offering, the climbing wall has been identified as a gateway activity to other OP offerings. However, climbers routinely report dissatisfaction with the physical and social environments at the ASU climbing facility (A. Miller, personal communication, February 18, 2010). These complaints have included women who felt unwanted and uncomfortable at the climbing wall due to male climbers' attitudes, novice climbers who felt self-conscious around advanced climbers, and climbers who could not find enough easy routes and problems to keep them interested. The researchers' goal was to answer the following questions: How do the physical and social environments impact user satisfaction and feelings of acceptance? Is there a correlation between gender and dissatisfaction with the climbing wall environment? What can be done to increase participant satisfaction at the climbing wall?