Skip to main content

Cornell University


At the Lindseth Climbing Center, we welcome people with disabilities that want to take advantage of our climbing opportunities. Climbing offers both mental and physical challenges for beginners and experts alike. Through staff support, instruction, and special gear systems, we can work with the abilities that each person brings to help them achieve their climbing goals. Climbing is for anyone!

Getting Started

Anybody that wants to visit the Lindseth Climbing Center must first complete a waiver and watch our orientation video. For people who are not Cornell Affiliates (students, staff, faculty, or alumni – or parents, partners, siblings, or children of those people), you will need to participate in one of our programs before being able to climb on a regular basis. Those programs include our monthly Adaptive Climbing events, regular Climbing Lessons, or a private climbing session. Once you have done that, you will be considered a Community Affiliate and can come during Open Hours as it suits you.

Building Access

Access to the building is through automatic doors, and the wall is on the first floor. Building restrooms with accessible stalls are located off the lobby area of the building, down the hall from the Climbing Center, through a mix of automatic and non-automatic doors. The door to the wall itself is not automatic and opens out into the hallway. Once inside, the flooring is mostly firm padding, and has ramps at most elevation changes. Some challenges that our facility faces relate to space and noise. While there is plenty of room to move through the facility and can fit many climbers at a time, it does not have much in the way of hangout space or casual seating. Folding chairs, or a bench, can be made available as necessary. Depending on the day, it can feel quite crowded at the wall. We have tried to schedule our public event at a time when attendance may be lighter. Noise distractions typically come from activity in the turf field space which is in the same room as the wall, on the other side of a floor to wall net.

What to Expect

New climbers usually begin with bouldering or top rope climbing. Bouldering is climbing without ropes, over a thickly padded floor. Climbers are generally self-reliant on their upward progress and controlled descent. Top rope climbing involves climbing on our walls while attached to a rope. A partner (belayer) is on the end of the rope, and protects the climber from falling and controls their descent. Belaying is not difficult, but does require training and certification. During our public events or private sessions, belayers are provided for you. During Open Hours, the wall does not have dedicated belay staff.

Friends, family, aides, and fellow climbers are all encouraged to learn how to belay so that they can be supportive to adaptive climbers on a regular basis.

Adaptations Available

Adaptive climbers can receive support in the form of coaching from the ground, physical guidance as appropriate from supporters on the ground or even on an adjacent rope, counterweight system to relieve effort during wall climbing, or mechanical advantage systems that will allow you to climb high on the ropes themselves. Adaptive climbers will use harnesses and climbing shoes like any other climber, and we have a variety of harnesses to suit a variety of climbers. You bring your curiosity and spirit, and we’ll figure out what support is most appropriate!


Adaptive Climbing Events are a great way to get started, and are typically held once a month. At the event we will have adaptive systems available to explore, as well as dedicated staff for belaying and coaching. Check our Adaptive Page for the current schedule.

Private Climbing Sessions are scheduled in advance between qualified instructors and the climber(s). This is a chance to receive more personal instruction on a more flexible schedule. Availability is subject to instructor and facility limitations, and requires advance coordination. If you are interested in a private climbing session, contact Josh Giblin, Climbing Gym Manager, at or 607-255-6040.

Learn to Belay Classes are focused on top rope belay instruction. This is a good introduction to the wall, and perfect for climber ages 13 and up who will be seeking belay certification. Not only will we cover all of the gear and systems to protect top rope climbers, you’ll get an introduction to the bouldering wall and have some opportunities to climb as well. Learn more about the Learn to Belay class.

Open Hours Climbing is available to affiliated climbers, and qualified wall staff can assist in certain system setups and guidance on harness and shoe choices. Because we do not have dedicated belay staff at these times, friends, family, aides, and fellow climbers are all encouraged to learn how to belay so that they can be supportive to adaptive climbers on a regular basis. This skill is taught in our Learn to Belay class, climbing events, and private sessions. Advance coordination may be required for certain adaptations.


All adaptive climbers will be able to use the facility and gear for free. Climbers should reach out to the Wall Manager to get set up in our system and discuss access and training options.

Not sure if climbing is right for you?

Come to one of our events, bring your friends, and have a look for yourself. At Cornell Outdoor Education, we strongly believe in “challenge by choice,” and will never make you do something you are not comfortable with. We are looking forward to climbing with you!

Back to top