OGDEN — To cut the ribbon on a new Outdoor Adventure and Welcome Center, Weber State University President Brad Mortensen not only traveled from his office to the south side of campus — he rappelled approximately 65 feet.
The ribbon stretched across the lower area of the building’s rock climbing facility, which features a 55-foot climbing wall and a 15-foot bouldering wall. Standing among a group made up of students, employees and first responders, Mortensen — donning a helmet and harness — picked up a pair of jumbo scissors and cut the purple ribbon.
The 17,000-square-foot building will not only serve as an outdoor recreation hub, it will also be used as a welcome center as students arrive to and get to know people on campus.
One future student who will eventually spend time in the facility, Story Turner, sat next to Mortensen as he cut the ribbon. The Ogden High School 10th grader uses a wheelchair, and she said the increased accessibility to outdoor activities provided by the new building makes her eager to attend school at Weber State.
“Here at this new building, there’s a lot of new adaptive stuff that will make it easier on me — adaptive rock climbing and a trail chair, and they’re hoping to get adaptive bikes,” Turner said. “I’m just really excited to be using this new facility, and it’s really easy to get around.”
Activities at the building go beyond recreation. Professionals and students looking to go into a field that requires an individual to work at dangerous heights, like first responders and construction workers, will use the facility for training. According to Weber State spokesperson Allison Hess, the center will also offer training for individuals who want to become certified to build 5G towers.
It features a two-story rescue-training area, a practice wall with windows to help emergency personnel who need to simulate an emergency bailout, a 65-foot rooftop rappelling and rigging area, a three-story catwalk system for rigging to practice various rescue scenarios and a training classroom.
“This incredible facility is truly unique,” said Daniel Turner, associate director of campus recreation. “Words like state of the art, cutting edge, progressive will define it well. I daresay we are setting a standard for recreational facilities that has yet to be done, bridging recreation and profession like never before.”
Turner said campus recreation has come a long way since the Outing Center was opened in 1975 in room 273 of the Union Building, describing it as a “mere closet” that had a rental catalog of wedding decorations and a two-seater bike.
The outdoor program at Weber State now boasts a much wider selection of equipment to rent, and that gear will be much easier to access with an expanded rental center, according to a press release. And for those who already have their own winter gear, the building has a tuning shop for skis and snowboards.
The university plans to offer multiple classes at the facility, which anyone can register for on its website.
Speaking on the name of the building, Mortensen said, “Adventure is that spot ... where we push ourselves almost to an edge where we’re not sure if we want to keep going. And then we do that and then we hit the summit, then we reap the benefits.”
He continued, “I think that’s what’s energizing about being in the outdoors, and it ties in so well with the purpose of this facility, for the welcome center.”