So you may be asking yourself…What is so cool about a bouldering competition? Good Question.
A few decades ago, I was into competition climbing. It wasn’t really a thing at that time so the formats were dubious and there was very little consistency. Bouldering certainly wasn’t a thing. If my selfish reasons are exposed, it would be safe to say that the reason I got into competitions was so that I would have somebody to belay me on routes. At this point, bouldering has created a consistent format for rock climbing competitions and the finals are set up in such a way that they are very spectator friendly.
I now live in the realm of World Championship rock climbers, USA climbing team athletes, and climbers who are establishing previously untouched climbing routes around the world.
So what is cool about bouldering competitions? They are a place for the climbing community to gather together and be updated on and meet the best climbers around and watch them do some pretty amazing things.
The first time we went to a bouldering competition with the intent of just watching was at the Subaru Outside Games.
…It is really hard to know there is a competition coming up and not feel the draw to join in.
Onto the competition:
The competition starts with a “Redpoint Round”. There are a number of routes established specifically for the competition. The climbers work to accumulate points by climbing as many of these routes as possible. The climbers with the most points advance to the finals.
The finals are set up with 4 bouldering problems for each the men and the women. The climbers have a short moment to look at the routes prior to the competition beginning. Once the competition starts, the climbers take seats facing the audience. They are unable to look at the routes until it is their turn to climb.
The final round is a great setup for spectators. It is great to watch and a great environment to be in. There are beer/snacks/drinks available for the crowd and good music playing. It is a pretty relaxing and entertaining atmosphere even without the athletes. Add the athletes and you have people to cheer on and watch.
Climbers come from all over the West Coast for these competitions. This specific competition was mostly climbers from Seattle, Portland, and a few from here.
I got a few pictures at the end of the Redpoint Round and between the competition. Here they are:
The final results are here:
So Drew Ruana took first place. If you don’t recognize the name, he is from Redmond Washington. At 16 years old, he established the most difficult route at Smith Rock, a 5.14D. He has also established two 5.14C routes, three 5.14A’s and several 5.13 routes.
It was kind of a privilege to be able to sit and watch him climb. It makes me feel like I was born 30 years too early for this life…but I’m at where I am so I am going to enjoy it the best I can now.
Zack and Nathaniel Surma climb out of The Circuit Bouldering Gym in Portland Oregon.
We also recognize Melina Costanza and Wrigley Kline from previous competitions.
Melina is also a climber from Vertical World Seattle. She took 10th in the US Sport Climbing Championships, 2nd in the SCS Youth National Championship, and 22nd in the Youth World Championships. She now sports a killer snake tattoo on her forearm.
Wrigley is my wife’s favorite climber. She is newer to the sport and she climbs out of The Circuit Bouldering Gym in Portland, OR.
Mira Capicchioni is 11 years old and climbs with Bend Endurance Academy out of Bend Rock Gym. We get to see her occasionally at the gym while climbing with the Bend Endurance Academy. My daughter really wants to climb with her. “I don’t know what to say…she’s like a super big important climber”
Because we have this live video thing, it really doesn’t pay much to take my own video. Bend Rock Gym has already done a great job and they have a better view than I did. Well a lot of people did. Before everybody got there, we sat in what we thought would be a good place. On the ground between two benches. And then the athlete benches were put in front of us. And then a video tripod was set in front of us. Even though we sat right near the front, we ended up with no view. It was kind of a bummer. Anyways…Bend Rock Gym’s video is much better than anything I could have gotten. I am just going to put time stamps for the highlights.