Seriously: Campus climbers develop allergy, not wearing shirts


Collegian | Madelyn Hendricks

Grant Coursey, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: This is a satire piece from The Collegian’s opinion section. Real names and the events surrounding them may be used in fictitious/semi-fictitious ways. Those who do not read the editor’s notes are subject to being offended.

While the recent rise in avian influenza virus cases has captured the media’s attention, a no less sinister disease is spreading through the Colorado State University climbing community.


It’s called a “Shirt Allergy,” despite being contagious, and its effects are hard to miss. Upon attempting a climb — or in the worst cases presented, merely stepping foot in a climbing gym — afflicted climbers develop a near-pathological aversion to keeping their shirts on.

“I don’t know how to fix it,” said Sam Yellsalot, first-year student and new climber, breaking down into tears during his interview. “I just started climbing this past semester, and like, I found this other group of guys who had just started climbing, too, and we just started going together. I don’t know how it happened, but now we all have (a Shirt Allergy).”

Yellsalot said the affliction only affects young male climbers and is worst when in groups of similarly afflicted climbers.

Side effects of the virus include extreme CLIF BAR cravings, the need to use “bro” in every sentence uttered and the unrestrained urge to talk about a climber’s project to anyone who will listen.

Often these people are unsuspecting friends at parties, caught for hours listening to a breakdown of the moves necessary to complete a moderate climb that the affected climber swears will be upgraded in difficulty once enough people see how hard it is.

The way Yellsalot’s group contracted the virus is still being debated, but they likely got it by meeting a fifth-year student choosing to live out of his van to better pursue his climbing art form.

“Other possible vectors for infection may include the small group of migrating ‘turtles’ — climbers who have been affected so much by the Shirt Allergies that they have grown crash-pads out of their backs and are rarely seen in public without their protective shell.”

The fifth-year student took the group climbing outdoors for the first time and refused to wear a shirt because he “didn’t want to ruin one of the two he had if he took a ‘gnarly whipper‘ (a giant fall),” Yellsalot said.

Other possible vectors for infection may include the small group of migrating “turtles” — climbers who have been affected so much by the shirt allergies that they have grown crash pads out of their backs and are rarely seen in public without their protective shell.

The infected Yellsalot group ran into the herd of turtles at Rotary Park, a local bouldering hub and a hot spot for infection, according to health experts.


The herd stopped there on its way from Joshua Tree National Park, where the climbers spend their winters to avoid the cold, heading back on a long and perilous journey to their summer habitat of Lander, Wyoming.

Several experts on wild climbers said it was a surprisingly early sighting for such a migration and expressed worry for the little troupe, wishing them luck as they brave what is expected to be an unusually cold and snowy March to get early-season climbs in.

For now, the Shirt Allergy continues to spread like wildfire throughout the dorms of CSU. 

Local climbing gyms like Ascent Studio Climbing and Fitness and Whetstone Climbing have implemented a quarantine measure requiring all CSU students to climb under supervision for a period of time.

The gyms use the measure to isolate and ban those climbers that attempt to remove their shirt anywhere in the first 30 minutes of their climbing session in an effort to protect their community of laid-back recreational climbers from the horrors of developing the allergy.

Reach Grant Coursey at or on Twitter @grantcoursey