Rock climbing doesnt seem so intimidating now that West Virginia Universitys new Student Recreation Center has opened for business. Thats because a 50-foot climbing wall that stretches from the ground floor up through the center of the building is providing ample opportunities for students to hone their mountain climbing skills.

Students, employees, familieseven the governor of West Virginia, Bob Wisewill be on hand to experience the magnificent 177,000-square-foot facility and observe a demonstration by a world class climber during a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, as part of Fall Family Weekend. The ceremony will take place in Multi-Purpose Room A of the facility, followed by a ribbon cutting at the climbing wall.

Ed Viestursclimbing leader of the IMAX film”Everest”and the PBS NOVA film project,”Into the Death Zone”will help cut the ribbon along with WVU student climbers Conrad Quesen and Kristin Muirhead. Viesturs will also have a dialogue with visitors at 3:30 p.m. in Multipurpose Room A of the center, followed by a 4:30-6 p.m. meet and greet at the climbing wall.

Viesturs has successfully climbed Everest five times, and is referred to by fellow climbers as a”risk taker and shrewed outdoorsman.”He has set a goal to become the first American to reach the summit of all 14 of the worlds 8,000-meter peaks without the help of supplemental oxygen. His quest,”Endeavor 8000,”began in 1989 at Kangchenjunga and includes 12 of those 14 mountains. He has been featured in Climbing magazine and other extreme sports publications.

Besides the official ceremony and climbing ventures, other Friday activities include:

  • Contests and relays such as a triathlon, home run hitting contest, hot shot competition and three-on-three basketball
  • Scuba, fencing, climbing, juggling, frisbee and other demonstrations
  • Massages, a swim stroke analysis, body composition testing
  • Live entertainment such as WVU Steel Drums, WVU Choir, Womens Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Same Difference, U-92 remote
  • Open recreational areas until midnight
  • Flick-N-Float (movies while floating in the aquatics area)
  • Tours of the $34 million facility and enrollment information will be available
  • A cookout at 6 p.m. in the green space near the West entrance
  • A spectacular fireworks show at 9 p.m.

Due to the Mountaineershome game with Kent State, the center will be open for recreational use only on Saturday. Tours are available as part of Fall Family Weekend from 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Sundays activities from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. are geared toward employees and their families. An information fair will be set up in the free zone with enrollment and intramural information and an opportunity to win a free one-year membership.

More demonstrations, health screenings and massages will be packaged with a magic show and other family-oriented activities. For a complete weekend schedule, call 293-5055 or visit WVU online at

All weekend events are free, but students and visitors are encouraged to register for certain activities and giveaways at the check-in area in the free zone. Some are first-come, first-served; others require registration or are ticketed.

Pre-Registered Events:

  1. Triathlon (9/21/01)Students can pre-register beginning 9/10/01 by calling 293-5063. Grand Prize for male/female winners: Mountain Bike
  1. 3-On-3 Womens Basketball (9/21/01)Teams may pre-register beginning 9/10/01 by calling 293-5063. Grand Prize: $50 Gift Certificate per team member for the WVU Book Store
  1. 3-On-3 Mens Basketball (9/21/01)-Teams may pre-register beginning 9/10/01 by calling 293-5063. Grand Prize: $50 Gift Certificate per team member for the WVU Book Store
  1. Youth Swim Instruction (9/23/01)-Parents may register children ages 6-12 beginning 9/10/01 by calling 293-5063. Classes will rotate everyhour.

Due to limited parking at the facility, Friday visitors are encouraged to park at the WVU Coliseum and ride the shuttle to and from the Rec Center beginning at 1:15 p.m. and ending at 12:15 a.m. Students and guests can also take the PRT or buses to the Evansdale Residential Complex throughout the weekend and walk the short distance.

Those planning to participate in activities are asked to wear comfortableclothing and non-marking athletic shoes.

The Rec Center sits on a 12-acre site that was formerly an intramural field; it opened in mid July. The modern facility sports two swimming poolsa 25-yard, six-lane lap pool and a leisure pool with a beach-style entry; two gymnasiums; a three-lane, 1/9-mile elevated running and walking track; three multipurpose rooms for aerobics, martial arts and dance activities; three racquetball courts and a squash court; an outdoor recreation center; and 17,000 square feet of weight and fitness space on two levels.

The architectural focal feature of the center remains the magnificent climbing wall off the main entrance corridor.