PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Nov. 14, 2013) -- Picatinny employees and family members participated Oct. 20 in a seven-hour introduction to rock climbing course at Allamuchy State Park.

The course was geared toward beginners with little or no climbing experience and was limited to 10 students to create the best learning environment possible.

According to Asheley Krakowski, the climbing club was started a few years ago after a climbing wall was donated from a Dick's Sporting Goods store. Krakowski is a recreation assistant with the installation's Outdoor Recreation Office, part of the U.S. Army Family Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Directorate,

"Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, the wall was never able to be erected," Krakowski said. "With interest in the sport still strong on post, the Outdoor Recreation Office has sought new ways to make it available to everyone in a safe and affordable way."

"Luckily, an AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certified instructor came forward to offer instruction. With the gear and instructor in place we were ready to offer our first climbing class," she added.

Krakowski coordinated the logistics for the club's first climb and enlisted the support of instructor Matt Berry, a Picatinny employee, who is a certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor.

He is also current in wilderness first-aid as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR.

Peter Wells, another Picatinny employee and avid rock climber, assisted with the class.

"In the morning we focused on building solid fundamental skills and giving participants the knowledge to become a skilled and confident rock climber," Krakowski said.

"We taught about the relevant equipment, knots and terminology, belaying technique, communication, climbing technique, and safety concerns while working around a climbing site.

"After that, the rest of the day was spent putting these new skills to use on the cliff, with each climber able to get in several climbs," she added.

The Outdoor Recreation Office provided harnesses, helmets and all the necessary gear for students to try out this fun and challenging sport.

"We hope to run at least one more class before the weather gets too cold and then we will be running classes again in the spring as soon as the snow melts," Krakowski said.

Krakowski noted that while the office is currently offering only introductory courses, it plans to offer intermediate classes in the near future. In addition, the club is organizing several gatherings at the New Jersey Rock Gym in Fairfield, N.J., for indoor climbing.