This semester, I competed in the Wisconsin Indoor Climbing Series. The series consisted of five collegiate indoor rock climbing contests hosted at UW campuses across the state. One of the events, Climbing in Wonderland, was held at Stout Adventures.
The final competition of the series was Saturday, April 11, at UW-La Crosse. Registration started at noon, so we hit the road around 9:30 a.m. It was a fun two-hour road trip with great companions.
When we got there, we signed the necessary paperwork and waivers. Officials also were collecting donations for their local food pantry. For each item donated, you received an extra raffle ticket for prizes donated by our awesome sponsors.
A huge shout-out to the sponsors of WICS for making the series possible.
As soon as the rules were explained to the competitors, the climbing began.
Everyone always asks, “Well, how do you compete at climbing? Whoever gets to the top fastest wins?” Not quite. Competitors are allowed to climb as many routes as they want throughout the day. At the end of the day, each climber’s top four climb scores are added and then ranked within that climber’s division. The categories are split into men’s and women’s advanced, intermediate and beginner. There also was a youth division.
What are routes? Well, all of the duct tape on the wall isn’t just to make it look colorful and pretty. The duct tape designates which “holds” a climber can use for their hands and feet.
In the photo above, you can see the scorecards littering the floor. After each climb, you mark your scorecard. If you successfully complete a route your first time, it’s worth “X” amount of points, say 220. But, say you miss the last “hold” and fall. You climb it again and get it on the second try. Now, it’s worth slightly fewer points, maybe 215. However, that climb still is worth more points than an easier climb you completed after one try.
The next thing you might ask is, “Why aren’t these crazy people wearing harnesses and why do the people on the ground have their arms up? Are they going to catch the climber?” Answer: sort of. This type of climbing is called bouldering, which is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses; climbers still use climbing shoes to help secure footholds and chalk to absorb the sweat from their hands and enhance their grip. Also, bouldering routes typically are only 15 to 20 feet or less, and there are people on the ground “spotting them” with their hands in the air, ready to guide a person’s head and shoulders safely to the ground if they fall. The spotters don’t try to catch the climber’s full body weight.
It was a great day of climbing filled with challenges, chalk and friends. I can’t wait for next year’s series. If you’re interested in the sport, indoor or outdoor, Stout Adventures is the place on campus to go.
Hope to see you there!