Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

ROCKIN’ AROUND – (Left) Climbers scout out problems at the Whitehorse Bouldering Competition Sunday on the rock wall at Porter Creek Secondary School. (Right) Marshal Latham looks for his next hold while facing an obstacle.

Bouldering competition sees large turnout

After having to be postponed twice, the Whitehorse Bouldering Competition was held Sunday at Porter Creek Secondary School and the turnout wasn’t too impacted by the changes in schedule.

By Dustin Cook on April 9, 2018

After having to be postponed twice, the Whitehorse Bouldering Competition was held Sunday at Porter Creek Secondary School and the turnout wasn’t too impacted by the changes in schedule.

In fact, the rock wall set up on the gym’s stage was crowded with about 30 athletes participating in the competition throughout the afternoon.

This year’s competition hosted by the Climb Yukon Association saw 24 problems increasing in difficulty set up on the structure, which event organizer Max Parker said took about three days to do.

The association removed all of the rocks and re-structured them to create challenging yet, possible courses for the climbers.

“We really wanted to make problems that were very technical this year and that set the standard for when other people are putting up routes here,” Parker said while climbing was in full swing.

Participants had three hours to complete as many obstacles as they could to add to their point total for scoring at the end of the event.

The more difficult the problem, the more points the climbers received and at the end of the three hours the top five problems completed for each athlete were used to tally the final score.

If the problem was completed on the first try, Parker noted, a bonus point was added to the score for that obstacle.

But with the more challenging holds, this didn’t happen too often, Parker said, but it didn’t prevent the climbers from getting right back up and trying again.

“It’s so nice to see people trying a problem and falling off and being like ‘Oh shoot, I almost had it’ and trying it differently,” he said. “When you fall, you don’t feel like the problem screwed you over, but you just have to do something a little different.”

After the competition, prizes were awarded in six different categories: under 11 male and female, 12-16 years old male and female as well as top male and female adult.

Parker explained for the first time ever the first place competitiors in each category were awarded trophies designed and made by Climb Yukon members out of a sheet of acrylic glass.

Other prizes including bandanas and hats were donated by Coast Mountain Sports.

The turnout was fairly strong, Parker noted, even though the event was previously scheduled twice in March and had to be postponed due to other sporting events and booking conflicts. Parker said he was also informed of some people who decided not to attend thinking the problems would be far to difficult.

Even still, there was little room to manoeuvre around on the stage as the climbers and spotters were trying to complete the different obstacles bunched together on the rock wall.

Overcrowding has been a frequent concern for the association and Parker said it is their main reason for looking into a climbing gym for the group.

“Climb Yukon’s main mandate has been to get a climbing gym,” he said. “We had one option that we were looking at for six months that ended up not working out so we are back at finding a location.”

Parker, who is on Climb Yukon’s board, said they also had a meeting with Yukon government ministers and have had this goal on their radar for two years and went through several essential steps including engaging the public, a feasibility study and fundraising for the project.

“It’s tough though because if you’re looking at getting (Community Development Fund) funding, you need a location and we’re having a tough time getting a location without funding. So it’s kind of a catch-22,” Parker said. “For now we’re going to deal with this and it’s going to get more crowded. We just hope people are safe.”

The competition was open to all skill levels and age groups, Parker said, who is also a coach of the 16-member youth team who has been practising three times a week throughout the winter on the Porter Creek rock wall. Parker said in December the team went to a national qualifiers competition in Vancouver for some experience ahead of this event.

The youth team also typically goes to Juneau for a competition, he explained, but bad weather condititions in early March when the team was supposed to make the drive up forced them to cancel it.

Now the association will move outdoors as temperatures start to climb. They will be working toward the annual Ibex Valley Bouldering Festival in August.

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