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ETSU's Department of Recreation reaching new heights with climbing, ziplining options - VIDEO/PHOTOS

Tony Casey • Mar 30, 2016 at 7:44 PM

Construction of a new East Tennessee State University football stadium displaced the Basler Challenge Course.

But reflecting the course itself, a challenge became an opportunity for the school’s Department of Recreation to expand its offerings.

Lynn Nester, department director, said June is the target date for the course’s move to a location formerly occupied by the western-most recreational practice field near Greenwood Drive.

The Basler Challenge Course was built in 2000 and had a collection of many climbing wall options, but it came time to make a move, Nester said they decided to change the name of the challenge course, add zip lines and other amenities. “Basler Team Challenge and Aerial Adventure Course” is the new name.

“It did have some age on it, and we were evaluating the cost of moving the climbing towers versus putting in new equipment,” Nester said.

After touring an operation similar to what they were looking for in Asheville, Nester and the university employed the same designers, and they are currently putting together the aerial and adventure course.

When it opens, the goal is to mostly offer the new course to ETSU students and staff and many of the students who come to the campus for summer camps. There will also be some availability for corporate and team-building. In the future, Nester will look to expand upon the availability and open it to the general public as something that could be a revenue generator for the department and ETSU.

The new course, while having a climbing tower several stories high, will have several different height levels for zip liners, with some of the platforms focusing on strength, with others emphasizing balance.

ETSU’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program will be one of the main users of the tower now that it has the ability to allow rapelling.

With a bit more of a visible position on campus compared to its predecessor between the practice fields and the CPA gym, the new location has a chance for more exposure to the general public.

Taran Branscum, a junior studying parks and recreation, works as a climbing wall Instructor, bike mechanic and trip leader at ETSU campus recreation outdoor adventures. He said there’s a buzz among the department’s staff, with everyone eagerly anticipating the time when they can take the to wall and tackle all of the new challenges.

“It’s much more extensive than the one before,” he said. “There’s twice as much stuff to do.”

Branscum’s been there for about one and a half years and thinks the students are the ones who are going to benefit most from having such a cool adventure course.

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