Southern Oregon University may not have a mountain cliff, but it does have the next best thing for rock climbing enthusiasts &

a 50-foot-high football stadium.

A group of SOU rock climbing students rappelled down the side of the stadium Wednesday morning to get a feel for real outdoor climbing.

"It's kind of scary," said senior Hailee Smith, who made her first outdoor rappel down the stadium wall. "Once you get over that rail, it's simple."

The stadium is much higher than the campus climbing wall located in a converted racquet ball court, which can add an adrenaline rush and make rappelling more difficult, said Erik Sol, coordinator of the Outdoor Program. Unlike the gym, climbers must also control their own rappelling speed outside.

"I want to make sure that the skills they learn in the climbing gym are practiced in an environment where stress is involved," Sol said.

The rock climbing classes are part of the outdoor adventure leadership program new to SOU this year, which prepares students to lead outdoor recreation trips. The program was designed to take advantage of Southern Oregon's terrain, and also includes classes in whitewater rafting, hiking and scuba diving classes.

"I think we've got to utilize what we've got," said Donna Mills, department chair of health, physical education and leadership. "We don't have a rock right on campus. It looks a little strange as they're coming down the wall of the football stadium, but I guess it's a thrill."

Video of SOU students rappelling

— Video by Orville Hector | Daily Tidings

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