Autumn may be cold and wet here in Bellingham, but that doesn't mean you have to stay bundled up in your bedroom or dorm room. There are a lot of ways to get out and get active through the Outdoor Center.
One of the main services the Outdoor Center provides is a full-service bike shop. For a flat fee of $2, you can have access to all the tools the Outdoor Center has to offer. There are also mechanics available to provide assistance, promotions and outreach coordinator Marissa Capito said.
The bike shop also has many bike parts available for purchase and if there's something they don't have, they can order it for you, Capito said.
The Outdoor Center also hosts excursions, where students and faculty can see sights and learn about a new sport.
“A preconceived notion people have that's incorrect about the Outdoor Center is that it's for people who are really into the outdoors and know what they're doing,” Capito said. “Really, we exist for people who are not as into sports, or who just want to brush up on their skills.”
Students and faculty looking to get away from campus for a while will find many opportunities through the Outdoor Center. Sunset Sea Kayaking on Chuckanut Bay starts this Wednesday, and continues on Oct. 31 and Nov. 14 and 28, Capito said.
“It's definitely for people who've never been sea kayaking before,” Capito said. “You don't need to worry if you don't know how to roll or anything like that.”
The cost is $30 for students and faculty and $40 for guests.
For more adventurous types, Whitewater Kayak Day is Saturday, Nov. 3. Though not as leisurely as sea kayaking, this trip is still open to first-timers, resources and events coordinator Jon Dufay said.
“It's going to be a beginner-oriented trip,” Dufay said. “We're not going to take them down anything too crazy.”
Those interested in whitewater kayaking are recommended to attend roll sessions at Carver Pool to practice. Sessions are offered Oct. 23 and 30. Each roll session costs $5 and Whitewater Kayak Day costs $50 for students and faculty. The cost covers all gear, transportation, and instruction, Dufay said.
For those who want to stay dry and maybe see a little sun, the Outdoor Center will host a two-day rock climbing trip to Vantage, Wash, on Oct. 27 and 28.
“Vantage was the first O.C. trip that I did last year when I was new to Western,” Capito said. “I didn't know anything about rock climbing.”
The guides for the trip help make first-time rock climbers feel comfortable, Capito said.
“The trip leaders are really awesome,” Capito said. “That's true for any trip you go on with the Outdoor Center. They do some more challenging stuff for those people who already have a few skills, but they also make it very easy and not overwhelming for people who haven't done it before.”
Anyone interested in attending an excursion can sign up in the Outdoor Center, Capito said. The vantage trip costs $60 for students and faculty and $70 for guests. The cost covers food, transportation and guides for the trip, as well as most of the gear, Capito said. Any gear that isn't provided can also be rented from the Outdoor Center.
In addition to excursions, the Outdoor Center also hosts informational events on campus. High-altitude mountaineer Ed Viesturs will come to Western to give a presentation at 7 p.m. on Oct. 16 at the PAC.
“Ed Viesturs is probably the biggest name in American mountaineering,” Dufay said.
Viesturs will talk about his experience summiting all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks in the world, including Mt. Everest and K2, without oxygen. Also speaking at the event will be big wall rock climber Micah Dash, who will talk about his experiences climbing in Kashmir, India. Big wall climbing is the sport of climbing sheer rock faces, sometimes for days at a time, Dufay said.
“It's going to appeal to anybody with an adventurous spirit,” Dufay said.
The event is co-sponsored by Mountain Hardwear, who will provide door prizes such as jackets, fleeces and other outdoor apparel at the event.
“King Lines,” a documentary of rock climber Chris Sharma, will show at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29 in Artzen 100.
“That is gonna be sick,” Capito said. “He [Sharma] does everything from deep water solo climbing in Greece to bouldering in South America, which is absolutely amazing. The footage will just blow you away.”
Another aspect of the Outdoor Center is the E.D.G.E. program, or Encouraging the Development of Groups through Experience. E.D.G.E. is a series of physical and mental challenges designed to encourage teamwork, trust and communication, program facilitator Melissa Queen said.
E.D.G.E. offers two kinds of programs at Western's Lakewood property on Lake Whatcom: the low ropes course, which involves activities taking place on the ground or up to 13 feet off the ground and the high ropes course, in which participants take on challenges as high as 30 feet above ground. Both courses are completely safe, Queen said. E.D.G.E. also offers portable activities that can be done on-campus.
Campus groups such as this year's AS Board of Directors have participated in the E.D.G.E. program, Queen said. Anyone interested in the E.D.G.E. program can find out more at the Outdoor Center.
The Outdoor Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is on the first floor of the Viking Union.