When the Case Rock Monkeys began to fall through the cracks at Case Western Reserve University, Eli Gold took the initiative to save the university’s only club dedicated to rock climbing.
“I just kind of asserted my leadership abilities,” said Gold, a third-year undergraduate student who recently became the club’s new president.
Gold joined the club at the beginning of his freshman year during the Student Activities Fair, but never received contact from it after the fair. When he heard that the club needed new leadership during the fall semester of his junior year, he held a meeting in October and climbed on as president of the Case Rock Monkeys.
“Eli stepped up, and his previous experience climbing and current level of enthusiasm left me with a positive feeling as to the club’s future,” said Stuart Ewen, fourth-year undergraduate and former president of the Case Rock Monkeys.
Since the club’s revival this semester, the Case Rock Monkeys have had four successful meetings.
“We just organized it enough to have meetings and get back on the climbing wall,” Gold said. “No one really knew about it for a year or two.”
The mission of the Case Rock Monkeys is straightforward and simple – to climb and to have fun.
“That’s what we do. We go to Veale for two hours and climb,” he said.
The club meets every Thursday night from 8-10 p.m. to play music, set climbing routes, and climb a rock wall that’s tucked in the back corner of Veale in one of the racquetball courts.
“A lot of people don’t even know we have [the rock walls],” Gold said.
For now, the Case Rock Monkeys are getting back on their feet during this transitional period, but Gold anticipates significant expansion next semester.
“There’s a lot of interest being generated. It’s going to hopefully get a lot bigger,” he said. “A lot of people came out of the woodwork to come to the club.”
Even though Gold has been climbing since his junior year in high school and is certified to belay, students don’t have to be nearly as experienced to join – club members range from freshmen to upperclassmen with varying levels of experience.
“It’s a club that’s definitely open for everyone. It’s not like there’s any expectation of skill,” he said. “We accept people of every skill level, first time or if you’ve been climbing for years… I know people in the club who have been climbing since they were four years old,” he said. “It’s very easy to learn.”
Gold also plans on taking the club to explore climbing destinations outside of Veale.
“We’ve budgeted three trips to the Cleveland Rock Gym,” he said. The gym is located in the warehouse district of Euclid and has climbing walls up to 50 feet tall.
“In the future, I hope to be able to set up trips to outdoor climbing venues as well,” he said.
Next semester, the club will receive funding from the Undergraduate Student Government for new equipment and club shirts.
“[Case Rock Monkeys] helps you get away from classes. You’re working out and having a good time with people who are sharing an interest with you,” Gold said. “It’s just a club that I’m trying to open to everybody and share my enjoyment of climbing with everyone here at CWRU.”
“Someone is close to the top of the wall, and everyone just stops what they’re doing to help them get to the finish,” he said. “It’s a good community.”
The Student Leadership Journey Council has identified the Case Rock Monkeys as a group that facilitates leadership and learning through climbing experience and teaching others how to climb.