by Ryan Tipper
Photos by Lyric Otto
The Outdoor Center at Western Washington University is not just a place for Western students. Whatcom Community College students are also invited to join in on all the attractions that the Outdoor Center has to offer, such as skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing and snowshoeing.
Whether an interested student is a first time adventurer or has been doing it for years, all students are able to sign up for upcoming events for some of the lowest fees in Bellingham. To use the center, students only need to have either a valid Western or Whatcom I.D. and then sign up at the center itself, located at the back end of Western’s campus in the Viking Union building. While small in size, the center is filled with everything outdoors.
“Not many Whatcom students know they can sign up here,” Freddy Collins, a student staff member at the center, said. “It’s a great place to make friends.” While Bellingham has both Western and Whatcom as state schools, the Outdoor Center is one of the ways students from each school can meet and interact.
Collins also mentioned the value students can get out of using the Outdoor Center. “We have all our rentals for very cheap,” he said. “It only costs $2 to use the bike repair tools and we have on-site technicians to help if needed. The majority of bike shops located in Bellingham usually range from $50 and up for basic bike repairs.”
“We also have lots of free books and trail maps for anyone interested,” Collins said.
When it comes to actual events, there are several to choose from each quarter. “All the excursions are student-led and don’t require you to have any skill,” Collins said.
Collins said that the Outdoor Center has hosted more advanced trips such as summits to the top of Mount Baker and some ice climbing.
Ashley Howard, a Western student, was one of the students who participated in the Outdoor Center’s “Backcountry Ski/Snowboard Days” event last month.
“I had so much fun doing it,” Howard said with a smile. “I haven’t been snowboarding for very long, but it’s something I want to get better at, and the Outdoor Center helped me do so by putting on this event,” she said.
Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only events the Outdoor Center has planned for the rest of winter quarter. Weekly yoga, an introduction to snow caves and snow camping, and rafting on the Skagit River are just some of the available excursions. For the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the center offered a romantic snowshoe event on Feb. 16.
For all these events, the equipment comes included along with the experience of the student leaders to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable, as well as educated.
Whether a seasoned veteran of all things outdoors or a beginner, all students are invited to stop by the Outdoor Center and see if anything piques their interest.