Reaching new heights: C of I student a climbing star
June 2013 - A professional athlete resides on The College of Idaho campus, and he’s one of the best in the world at his sport.
Were Matt Fultz a football player, autograph requests might make his college life difficult. But the C of I senior kinesioogy major is a rock climber, which means his love for the sport exceeds any mainstream fame and fortune he receives from it.
Not that you’ll hear him complain about it.
“What I love about climbing is the physical problem solving,” Fultz said. “Here you have this challenge in front of you, and you have to solve it in your mind and then try to execute your solution with your body. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles like that. It feels so awesome when you figure it out and reach the top.”
Famous or not, Fultz is one of the best young climbers in the nation. He has been competing across the country since his early teens, and he became the first person from Idaho – and the entire Big Sky region – to win USA Climbing Junior Nationals in 2004. Fultz put climbing on the back burner for a couple of years while he starred in football and track at nearby Columbia High School in Nampa, but his dedication to the sport has reached new heights since he enrolled at C of I. He remains undefeated in Idaho competition and qualified for his first World Cup event in 2011 by finishing sixth at a Professional Bouldering Series national event in Salt Lake City.
In the summer of 2013, Fultz is taking his climbing international for the first time, traveling to South Africa with a couple filmmakers to work on a movie about rock climbing.
“It’s been really exciting getting back into climbing,” Fultz said. “If you qualify for World Cup, you get to compete in Europe, so I’m definitely interested in that. But I also enjoy climbing outside just for fun here in Idaho.”
Some of Fultz’s favorite local spots include Swan Falls near Kuna, Reynolds Creek near Melba and the Lucky Peak Reservoir cliffs near Boise – all less than 45 minutes from campus. He long ago mastered the C of I climbing wall and currently works and trains at The Front rock climbing gym in Boise.
Fultz said his classes at the C of I, like rock climbing, have helped him develop his problem solving skills and his goal is to become a physical trainer or therapist.
"I knew that I wanted to do something that was health-related and help people," Fultz said. "I chose The College of Idaho because the professors are able to give one-on-one, individual attention to each student."
He also is excited that rock climbing will become an Olympic sport in 2020, though he acknowledged he “might be too old by then.” For now, he looks forward to continuing his competitive career and sharing his passion with fellow students. He encourages anyone interested in climbing to contact him via email at [email protected].