Climbing Comp

20th December, 2008

by Jay Harrison

Climbing Comp at Rocksport Gym

One TR down, one to go! The author manages one ascent at his first comp.

Thank you, Robin, for working the camera while I struggled to compete. Don't mind the chalk dust!

Saturday provided a respite between storms, a fortuitous intermission because Rocksport Climbing Gym put on their winter climbing competition that night. I had never been to a "comp" before and thought it would be a good diversion to watch this one, so we drove down to join the fun.

We arrived a bit late, but there was still plenty of food available from the potluck dinner that started the festivities, and the competition part had just begun. "Doc" Livingston emceed the event, and greeted us as we walked in the door. Dangling an irresistable carrot in front of me, he mentioned that no one in my age group had signed up for the comp - I could win by default. I dropped my plans to spectate and chose instead to join the ranks of competitors. Robin rolled her eyes at me - hopeless case! - then went upstairs to join friends who were cheering on their favorites in the competition.

Climbing Comp at Rocksport Gym

Zack sticks a two-finger pull during the comp.

The rules are pretty simple: climb at least five routes that must include two or three boulder problems and two or three top-rope routes. Every route and problem is numbered and allotted a point-score; when a competitor succeeds on a route, they record the number and score of the route, adding 30 points if the "send" was successful without falls on the first attempt (called an "on-sight"). Grab a witness or two for signatures and head for another route.

Climbing Comp at Rocksport Gym

Recording a "send" during the comp. Can I get a witness?

Todd Paris, Adirondack envoy of Climbers for Christ, arrived as I finished the paperwork, and agreed to "caddy" for me during the comp, belaying, spotting, and recording my routes. We joined Zack in the bouldering cave upstairs, and I began inspecting the options.

Climbing Comp at Rocksport Gym

A 150 point boulder problem looked well within my ability, so I looked it over carefully, then grabbed the first holds. A series of long reaches to good holds and I was by the ceiling. My "route" went out another six feet to its end at a solid handle. The crux involved nailing a heel-hook and reaching the handle. A quick match on the finish and I had an onsight ascent in the bag, for 180 points.

My first send had been relatively easy, so I looked over a nearby problem worth a lot more points. It looked like it might go, but it was obviously harder. I decided to try it out, and spent the next ten minutes flailing away at the very first move. Obviously no onsight here, and in the end, no success. I was stymied, but knowing there was a lot of room between point-scores of my first two tries, I went looking for something in between them.

I spent the rest of the night struggling to break the 200-point barrier and never managed it. I guess an old has-been trad climber is out of his element at a comp, but I had a lot of fun participating, and will probably do it again some day.

The staff of Rocksport Gym

Zack, on the other hand, was smokin'...he sent problems I couldn't touch, and ended the evening first in his division. Not only that, but while we waited for the judges to tally the scores, he onsighted the entertainment problem, a "stupid human trick" entailing a big huck from one jug to another. He has certainly come on strong since first taking up the sport just a short while ago.

Climbing Comp at Rocksport Gym

Awaiting the results at the end of the comp.

Doc is already planning another comp, hopefully some time in February. Keep checking Rocksport's Calendar for official announcements, and by all means, when it happens, join the fun.