The 2014 Tour de Frank was a success! Perfect weather and a great group of climbers was a winning combination for the first annual Tour de Frank. We had intentionally tried to keep the event low-key, with minimal advertising, as this was our first attempt at running an 'outdoor bouldering festival' event at Frank Slide. Despite the limited advertising, we were excited to see about 25 people come out to the Tour de Frank, including handfuls of climbers from Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge, the Crowsnest Pass, and Lethbridge.
Orientation started at about 11:15 (with free coffee and muffins available), and by 11:45 climbers were heading out into the Healing and Snakebite Sectors of Frank Slide for five hours of bouldering. Everyone was provided with a guide to the area and a scorecard (which listed the 70+ problems that were included in the TdF this year, including four previously unclimbed projects).
After orientation, I stuck around the 'front desk' for an hour or so, in case any stragglers showed up. Luckily, there were fun problems close at hand, and I warmed up by climbing Cottonwood Road (V1) a handful of times with Jonas Gagnon, who recently moved to Lethbridge. I also managed to repeat the tricky Two for a Dollar (V3) before moving on. I was happy when my wife Shelley (as well as my children Aya and Rowan) showed up to climb as well - we rarely get to climb together! I was also excited to see my friend Geoff Mintenko, who I hadn't seen (or climbed with) in over a decade. The Tour de Frank is a great way to meet people, apparently!
We headed over to the Snakebite Boulder where we climbed with a handful of boulderers from Lethbridge and Cranbrook, as well as Jonathan (and his two amazing girls Ruby and Sadie) from Beaver Mines. Shelley warmed up by doing the reachy Snakebite (V2) fairly easily, with Jonas coming very close on the line as well. We packed up and headed over to the Relentless Area to climb some of the slabs on the Foxhole Boulder, where we climbed briefly with Kyle and a few people from the Crowsnest Pass area. I tried to repeat the powerful Relentless (V6) with Dan and Geoff, but none of us could quite make the huge cruxy reach at mid-height. I then turned my attention to Redonculous (V5) to the right of Relentless (which I had never tried before), coming very close but falling off the last hard move.
Packing up to head over to the Healing Boulder, we met up with Dan Archambault, Andrew Funk, Josh Bylsma, and Mark Derksen (from Edmonton, Red Deer, and Lethbridge). They were steaming through the hard problems on the scorecard, even though it was a bit too warm at that point for truly hard climbing. I chatted for a bit, but then quickly dashed over to the Killer Boulder to do a lap on Killer Bees (V4) before I ran out of time. I did manage to send Killer Bees, but I was too slow on the walk over to the boulder and didn't get it done before the time ran out. I wished I had had the opportunity to climb a bit more, but being one of the organisers it was a great experience just to be able to hang out with so many climbers. The social experience was as rewarding as the climbing, certainly!
With sore tips, I headed back to the 'front desk'. Kyle was already there, gathering the score cards. Andrew and Josh had tied for the top overall spot, with Dan Archambault close behind. Seeing what they had accomplished in five hours made me think I need to devote a little more time to training! Not everyone turned in a scorecard, which was fine with us; not everyone is as interested in the competitive aspect of the TdF, and we were excited to see that people were interested in coming out just to enjoy a day of bouldering.
When all the points were tallied, the winners were:
Top Junior Male: Will Kwan
Top Junior Female: Ciara Meadows
Top Beginner Female: Danica Jensen
Top Beginner Male: Jonas Gagnon
Top Master' Male (40+): Dan Anhorn
Top Open Female: Shelley Hoover
Top Open Male: Andrew Funk and Josh Bylsma (TIE)
All things considered, it was a very successful TdF, especially since we hadn't advertised the event widely and hadn't expected too many people. The only small disappointment was the rather small number of climbers from Lethbridge. The Lethbians that did attend were definitlely psyched (!), which was awesome to see, but it would have been nicer to see more climbers from the closest city to the Slide.
I also wish I had had more time just to be able to connect with the climbers. In particular, I wish I had been able to spend more time climbing with people from the Crowsnest Pass (if Crowsnest Pass climbers are reading this, I'm hoping to get the chance to climb with you again!).
We're already planning next year! Huge thanks to my co-organisers Kyle and Alyssa; Kyle spent a lot of time distributing pencils and signs to all the areas, and Alyssa took some amazing pictures despite having her foot in a brace (all the photos above are by Alyssa).
Until next time...
PS> I'll try to get names attached to the captions in the photos, I don't have them here at my desk...