Climbing Competition

ORC Boreal Boulder Climbing Wall

One of the most popular activities NMU Recreational Sports offers is its 38 foot tall and 1,450 square-foot climbing wall which is located in the Physical Education and Instructional Facility (PEIF) of the NMU Sports Complex, near the basketball courts. The wall, named the Boreal Boulder, has numerous different routes to follow and hundreds more if you create your own on the way up.

Activities at the wall include climbing for adults and children, partner climbs, and classes. Trained staff members are on hand to assist with climbs and teach proper technique. All climbers MUST follow the climbing policies and youths are required to have parents sign a waiver form.

Experience the rush of climbing the wall! For more information, e-mail the Rec Sports Office at, or call the Outdoor Rec Center at 906-227-1369.

See Facility Hours Here

Climbing Wall Programs

We have some great programs for all levels of climbers! Click the links below to learn more about this semester's climbing wall programs and to register online.


Winter 2024 Climbing Wall Programs

Open Climb

Open climb is a time at the ORC where anyone can come in, whether you are a beginner climber or advanced. The ORC has staff on hand to help with belaying or give you tips on how to master that route you've been stuck on. No belay certification is required to climb during Open Climb shifts.

Partner Climb

Partner climb allows climbers to come in and belay for themselves. This is a time that is usually quieter than Open Climb and allows the climbers to climb the wall without waiting in any lines. In order to attend Partner Climb shifts, you must be belay certified through the ORC.

Women On The Wall

Women on the wall is a time for female climbers of all abilities levels to get on the wall in a no pressure environment. Push yourself on a project, work on climbing technique, and get to know other female climbers. Staff will not be available to belay, but climbers who are not certified are encouraged to show up and be belayed by belay certified climbers.

Allies and Friends

Allies and Friends is a time for LQBTQ & Allies of all climbing abilities to get on the wall in a no pressure environment. Push yourself on a project, work on climbing technique, and get to know other LQBTQ & Ally climbers. Staff will not be available to belay, but climbers who are not certified are encouraged to show up and be belayed by belay certified climbers.

Kids Climb

The ORC hosts Kids climb every Friday night for younger climbers. There are ORC staff on hand to belay climbers during this time but parents are also allowed to belay if they are belay certified and have a PEIF membership or purchase a day pass. All climbers under 18 years old will need to have a waiver on file signed by their parent or guardian. We recommend coming in with your child on their first visit to sign a digital waiver to be kept on file. If your young climber is looking for more instruction in climbing and would like to try competing, ask our ORC staff about Toonbusters, climbing lessons and the Superior Youth Climbing Competition.

Belay Training/Lesson

Beginning Fall, 2023 Belay Certifications will be available by appointment only. To register for belay certification, see the information below:

  • Click here, and sign in 
  • Belay Certifications will be offered weekly during the Fall and Winter semesters. There are 4 spots available per session. Participants must register 24 hours before the session (no walk-in's).
  • $15 belay certification fee will be charged when registering for a spot in the certification session.
  • Refunds will not be issued .
  • Previously, belay certification participants had to attend two sessions-this has changed for Fall 2023.
  • Participants will be certified if they demonstrate all appropriate skills and techniques, failure to perform may require the participant to register for the program again (payment will not be transferred to another session).
  • If you already know how to belay you will still need to register for a lesson to get belay certified.
  1. All PEIF building rules and policies must be followed.
  2. The climbing wall is to be used only during scheduled open hours with climbing wall staff on site.
  3. All climbers (both youth and adult) must have a signed liability waiver form on file to use the climbing wall.
  4. Climbers are expected to follow recommendations and requests of climbing wall managers and staff.
  5. Shoes must be worn for all climbing activities, including walking and belaying on the crash pad. Only shoes with clean soles will be allowed on the wall. Shoes designed for technical rock climbing or clean, soft-soled tennis shoes are highly recommended.
  6. Climbers who wish to belay must complete a belay training session and be approved by the appropriate NMU Recreational Sports staff. Children 14 and over may be approved to belay.
  7. A parent or guardian must accompany children under the age of 12. Participants must be at least 5 years of age to climb the top rope wall provided they meet the harness fitting requirements. There is no age restriction to boulder; however, adult supervision is required for children under the age of 12.
  8. All climbers must be belayed by an individual who has a current belay certification card (adults or children 14 and older) or by the climbing wall staff.
  9. No one with an active (bleeding/discharging) wound may use the climbing wall. The wound must be covered and then approved by the climbing wall staff.
  10. Food and drinks (including water) are not allowed on the crash pad. Please keep water bottles on the carpet.
  11. Climbers may use personal climbing shoes, harnesses, belay devices and chalk. Harnesses and belay devices must be visually checked by staff before use. Loose chalk is not allowed at or around the climbing wall. Climbers are required to use chalk balls to reduce build up on holds and spills on the carpet.
  12. An ATC and locking carabiner will be used for all belays. Belays must be from the belayer's harness. The use of anchors while belaying is strongly recommended.
  13. Bouldering is not allowed to occur below roped climbers. Bouldering climbers must stay below twice their height. No climbers may boulder above the first quickdraw.
  14. It is required that all participants bouldering have at least one person spotting them as they boulder.
  15. Changes of orientation of holds, climbing route and overall wall configuration are made by the climbing wall staff at designated times only.
  16. Climbers may wear jewelry at their own risk with the understanding that NMU Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports is not responsible for any damages.
  17. Some form of belayer/climber communication must take place before each and every climb to ensure safety. Details will be covered in the belay certification process, but the recommended commands between the belayer and climber are as follows:



    1. On Belay?

    1. Belay On.

    2. Climbing?

    2. Climb On.

  18. Unsafe climbing practices must be brought to the immediate attention of NMU Recreational Sports staff. All climbers are asked to assist and encourage less experienced climbers.
  19. All accidents or equipment damage should be immediately reported to NMU Recreational Sports staff.
  20. Northern Michigan University and NMU Recreational Sports staff reserves the right to restrict or deny use of the climbing wall for violation of climbing wall policies or intentional unsafe acts.
Climber on the ORC Climbing Wall

User Fees

There is no charge for recreation members to use the climbing wall during open hours. For non-members, a valid day pass is required (purchased at the Info Center for $10).

  • Climbing shoes: may be rented for $2 on a first-come, first-served basis. Socks must be worn with all shoe rentals.  Harnesses and belay devices also are available for checkout during open and partner climb hours at no charge.

Fees for group packages or wall rental vary with the number of participants, length and content of the event.

Reserve the Climbing Wall

Reserve the climbing wall for your next group event or gathering. Three ORC employees with be available for your private climbing session to belay your group. 

  • Cost: $90/hr, includes 3 staff members to belay