Rock climber finds success through community at Western

After growing up in Germany and other corners of the globe, rock climber Megan Yingling found a new community at Western.

“I loved the valley and the recreation opportunities available here,” she said when reminiscing about her first visit to campus.

Initially drawn to the Gunnison area after visiting a bouldering spot in Crested Butte, Yingling came to Western to study Recreation and Outdoor Education. Aiming to work outdoors with disabled individuals after graduation, she honed her skills in and out of the classroom.

After initially struggling with balancing academics and other activities freshman year, Yingling discovered a love for helping others climb their toughest mountains. In her second year at Western, she declared a second major in Psychology.

“The Recreation program is really in-depth,” Yingling said on her early challenges. “Eventually, I learned to invest in my own learning and pursue my passions.”

Last semester was her best yet. Despite having to travel on the weekends for rock climbing, Yingling achieved recognition on Western’s Deans List. She currently balances working as a yoga instructor and head route setter at the Mountaineer Field House, and teaching skiing in the winters at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Yingling identifies community as a huge source of strength. She found her community and met many of her closest friends at the Mountaineer Field House.

“The Field House is my second home. It’s where I work and where I play.” She said.

During the week, it is common to see Yingling engaging with other students in yoga classes or around the rock climbing wall. After graduation, she will pursue her dream of working in therapeutic recreation, and hopes to move somewhere with plenty of great rock climbing spots.