Sunday, April 6, 2014

Boulderfest 2014!

Last weekend (March 29th) the climbing gym was packed for Lethbridge's big annual bouldering competition... Boulderfest!  Boulderfest is one of the longest-running bouldering competitions in Alberta (the first Boulderfest was in 2002), and it is always a lot of fun to see all the climbers in the region come together for a single event.  Everyone who worked at Boulderfest did a fantastic and professional job (with special acknowledgements going to Alyssa and Ashley), and as a result the event went off very smoothly, with all the competitors having a great time climbing and socialising!

Everything ready, waiting for the doors to open.  Seven of the 60 problems were on the 75-degree wall.

In climbing competitions, virtually all of the hard work is finished before the doors open on the day of the comp.  Between midnight on Thursday and 4:00 am Friday night Kyle and I (with some help from Morgan and Mike) set 60 boulder problems that ranged in difficulty from V0- to about V8.  Boulderfest is a somewhat tricky competition to set for, as it maintains a tradition of being accessible to climbers of all levels of experience and age (really, it is as much a festival as a competition). As such, we needed to create problems that ranged from juggy fun problems with short reaches to hard, steep, powerful lines that would challenge the strongest climbers.  Luckily, Kyle and I have about 30 years of setting experience between us, so we managed a very fun set of problems for everyone.

Stacks of wax!  Lots of holds to work with, which is nice.  Most of the problems were set at this point.

While it was hard work setting that many problems that quickly (we'll definitely have to add another setter next year!), the positive tradeoff in having only two setters doing the bulk of the setting is that it allowed us to have tighter control over quality.  A few problems didn't go off quite as planned (especially number 60, which had one too many holds and thus was climbed using a much easier sequence than I had intended), but this was more of a fore-running problem due to time constraints (the last dozen problems were fore-run late at night, which is always a bad idea) than a setting problem.  All-in-all, a pretty successful effort!

Steep problems on the 75-degree wall!

Problems ranged from easy child-oriented problems (numbers 1-5), to balancy slabs, to steep hard crimpy lines, to hard pinch problems.  Everyone in both time slots (1:00 - 3:00, and 3:00 - 5:00) had a blast trying all the problems; no one managed to climb the hardest problem (which ended up being number 59), with all other problems seeing ascents.  As a setter, this is virtually a perfect result; too many sends of the hardest lines means either that you under-set, or that you misjudged who would be showing up to the competition. 

When the chalk dust finally settled, the top three winners of each category of the 2014 Boulderfest were:

Alexis Demecha (3036)*
Ashlee Matkin (2422)
Christine Wallace (1761)

Mark Derksen (3920)*
Dave Trudel (3838)
Taylor Hudson (3766)

Will Kwan (2120)*
Lauren Kwan (2096)
Kieran Meadows (1916)

 *2014 Winner's Jersey Holder

 For the full list of scores and competitors, go HERE.

 Alexis Demecha, women's overall winner!

Powerful problems on the 45-degree wall!  We had lots of volumes this year, which made for fun problems.  It also makes setting a little easier...

Lots of prizes for the 2014 Boulderfest!  Every competitor got something, which is great.

A few additional notes on the nuts and bolts of the 2014 Boulderfest...

This year, the organization of Boulderfest was divided between two groups, an Organizational Committee (Alyssa and Ashley) which was primarily responsible for scheduling and sponsorships, and a Climbing Committee (Kyle and I) which was responsible for route-setting and climbing-related tasks on the day of the competition.  It seemed to work brillliantly (huge props to Alyssa and Ashley for all their hard work!), and it seems likely that Boulderfest 2015 will adopt this same organizational structure. 

Another small change in this year's Boulderfest was how prizes were doled out at the end of the competition.  Alyssa and Ashley did a great job of approaching sponsors, and there were ample prizes from Flashed, Delire Climbing Holds, Awesome Adventures, and several more companies.  This year, all prizes were handed out as draw prizes, while the climber with the highest score in each of the mens, womens, and youth categories were awarded 'winners jerseys' with a specially-designed "BoulderFest" graphic and logo.  A great compromise, I think!

So, what's next?  I'm looking forward to the 2015 Boulderfest, certainly!  Also, and more proximally, the 2014 Tour de Frank (the outdoor bouldering 'competition' / checklist / fun participatory event) at Frank Slide will get underway soon as well, although I sometimes feel that it would be fun if we adopted a one-day format (similar to the Hueco Rock Rodeo) instead of the summer-long format used last year (free and for everyone, in either case!).

The spring climbing season is virtually upon us, and the great bouldering of Frank Slide awaits!  It would be nice to see more of the climbers from Lethbridge actually climbing outdoors this year; with Frank Slide being so close and so fun (over 600 problems (!) from V0- to V11, and more being added all the time, and landings improving...), I am sure we'll see more people taking advantage of the rock-climbing opportunities that Southern Alberta offers!

Until next time, have a good time climbing!

NOTE: All photos are courtesy of Alyssa, though I think Ashley make have taken some of them.  Huge thanks!

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