2 October 2018
The Student Outdoor Learning Experience (SOLE) program has a slate of upcoming events scheduled to encourage outdoor activity on campus.
According to the UCCS website, the SOLE Center seeks to “provide the university community with safe, educational and fun outdoor recreation opportunities.”
Located in the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center, the SOLE Center contains a bike and ski workshop, a climbing wall, outdoor equipment rental and Bike Share.
The SOLE Center also puts on events such as outdoor trips, educational clinics, workshops and plenty of other special events.
This month, the SOLE Center will feature four outdoor trips: sand-boarding at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, fly fishing during Fishing the Rockies, a fourteener hike up four peaks known collectively as the “Democrat Quad,” and a Crested Butte Mountain Biking Weekend. Each of these trips have fairly low fees, with the fees for each trip including transportation, equipment, and in some cases, meals as well. Fees range from $15 for the fourteener to $125 for the mountain biking.
The SOLE Center does not just limit themselves to trips inside of Colorado. They have also taken trips to Costa Rica and Utah.
Chris Ertman, outdoor programs and trails coordinator at the SOLE Center, said that the SOLE Center is “an all-inclusive, one-stop shop for outdoor recreation.”
Ertman, who has been at UCCS for a little over a year and a half, said that the SOLE Center’s goal is to “provide access for students to do other things that they might not have the means to do so.”
Funding is a consistent, nagging worry for some in the center. “We’re not for profit, so we usually don’t break even,” Ertman said. “We are provided by student funds, so our goal is just to provide access for students to do other things that they might not have the means to do so that’s really our focus so that’s why it’s so cheap.”
Partnering with the community isn’t something the SOLE Center has done a lot in the past, so Ertman
hopes that they can branch out and grow the program that way in the future.
Ertman said that the SOLE Center is looking at scholarships for students who cannot afford fees for events.
One of the events that has been popular at the SOLE Center is recent weeks is Ladies Climb Night, said Ertman.
Ertman said that the Ladies Climb Night started last year as a networking opportunity for women with outdoor related interests.
“We average between 15 and 20 — which is great — pretty consistently,” said Ertman.
Ertman mentioned that while climbing is a big community where people support one another, it is often perceived as a male-dominated sport. By hosting events like Ladies Climb Night, the SOLE Center is able to provide that social opportunity for women who enjoy climbing or want to try out climbing.
“I think what I like the most,” Ertman said, “is seeing the responses from the students when they come back from our trips, [and] seeing first-time climbers on the rock wall is really rewarding.”
Ertman said his favorite part is watching people bond and grow during the events.
Ertman hopes that the SOLE Center will be able to expand in the future so that they can purchase new equipment and offer more climbing classes as well as different clinics.
“Our big hiccup right now is storage space because we don’t have a lot of room to expand right now,” said Ertman.
According to their website, the SOLE Center hosts once a month bike maintenance classes on the first Wednesday at 6 p.m., Ladies Climb Night every Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and a Social Meet N Climb the first Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.